Meet The Team


Dave wood

Dave Wood is the Director of Avon Needs Trees.  He brings with him strong background in management, fundraising and media skills and is a passionate about the climate emergency. He is committed to improving our catchment area in terms of carbon lock-up, biodiversity, natural flood management and public, green space.

Dave has a background in local government, including being a councillor for 15 years. He has also worked in campaign management and in the charity sector including working for Citizens Advice and a local reuse and recycling project.  As Bath & North East Somerset Council Cabinet Member he set the “plant 100,000 trees by 2023” target and has started a rewilding project.


Mark Funnell

Mark is the Chair of Avon Needs Trees. He is the Communications and Campaigns Director at the National Trust, looking after external communications, internal communications, policy and advocacy and content and publishing.

He has specialised in environmental communications and campaigns for over 20 years. His previous roles include interim Director of Communications at Defra, Head of Communications at the Forestry Commission and Head of External Relations at the Environment Agency. He also led transformation to a new operating model for Defra group’s 250 Communications staff, who came together from five different arm’s length bodies.

Mark started out in editorial and publishing roles, working for five years at a consumer magazine publishing company. His specialist areas include environmental campaigns, corporate communications, operational and crisis communications, change management, staff engagement, stakeholder relations and public affairs.

dr nick murry

Nick is one of ANT’s five Founding Trustees, now in his second term.

He is a sustainability and climate change professional with experience in both sustainability management and environmental consultancy.  Nick has worked in public and private sectors, in the UK and internationally, most recently advising organisations on their path to Net Zero. He is also an Associate Lecturer in Sustainability and Environmental Management at Bath Spa University.

Additionally, Nick is a Wiltshire Councillor and serves on Wiltshire Council’s Additionally, Nick is a Wiltshire Councillor and serves on Wiltshire Council’s ‘Environment Select Committee’ and its ‘Climate Emergency Task Group’. He also chairs ‘Zero Chippenham’, a voluntary organisation with the aim of achieving local carbon neutrality by 2030. 

Gavin Spittlehouse

Gavin took some time out from his IT career in 2015 and planted 15 acres of native woodland a few miles from his home in central Bristol. Along with a wealth of practical woodland skills Gavin has professional experience of managing teams of volunteers. Gavin keeps bees and is interested in agroforestry.

John Chew

John has been a primary school teacher for over twenty years. His favourite subjects have always been science and geography, seizing every opportunity he can to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world. More recently, he has become passionate about sharing knowledge and understanding of climate change with children of all ages. He is currently studying for accreditation in the UN Climate Change Learn programme and is aiming to become an accredited Forestry School Educator later this year.

“I have found children to be very concerned about the state of the planet; the animals, forests and ecosystems that are being destroyed and sometimes lost for ever. Let’s get them re-engaged with wilderness and encourage them to learn about our precious natural world. They are our future and perhaps our greatest hope in sorting out the mess we’ve created.”

Cathy Bedford

Cathy Bedford is a freelance researcher, writer and trusts and foundations fundraiser, with ten years’ experience of working in the charity sector and a past career in documentary film-making at the BBC. Cathy grew up on a farm in Devon where she developed a deep love for the countryside and an interest in trees, rivers, natural history and rewilding. Now based in Bristol, when not working she spends her time playing the piano and cello, walking, swimming and wild gardening. 

“For me Avon Needs Trees offers a fantastic focus for my interest in and concern about the natural world – a chance to impact positively, in practical ways, on a local scale, on our threatened environment”

Andy chester

Andy has a lifelong love of wild life and wild places which began on the heaths  and woods of Dorset and the New Forest. He has spent the last twenty years working at Natural England, creating opportunities for people to be in the English countryside. He cut his teeth on the roll out of open access rights – the so called ‘right to roam’ – and was a founding member of the team that is creating the England Coast Path. He brings experience of balancing and reconciling outdoor recreation with safety, nature conservation, farming and other land uses.  

Tara Castle

Tara owns the small farm she grew up on next door to Hazeland, which includes some woodland.  Until recently she was working as an Estate Manager for the National Trust, where she worked for a large part of her career. She brings with her a wide experience in land management issues.  Her role with the Trust involved balancing the requirements of conservation and access, liaising with a wide range of stakeholders.

Tara is a wildlife enthusiast who is relishing the opportunity to build her knowledge and experience whilst helping to improve the conservation value of the land next door.  Given the biodiversity and climate emergencies facing the world, she is keen to spend the rest of her career doing all she can to mitigate this.  “I love where I live and I want to leave it in a better state for future generations.”

Stuart HAles

Stuart Hales has been working in nature conservation for 25 years. After some years volunteering he worked in the charitable sector, managing nature reserves for The Avon Wildlife Trust. Since 2007 he has worked for Natural England as the Senior Reserve Manager for Wiltshire’s National Nature Reserves. He brings practical experience of managing woodlands for biodiversity and a passion for our native woodland habitats.


SUsan Barker

Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator focusing on our Hazeland project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Susan brings a wealth of project management experience and we’re excited to have her on our team

Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund

Alister Wynn

Woodland Creation Manager

Alister is currently studying part time for a Masters in Forestry at Bangor University and is involved with all aspects of woodland creation for ANT, from scoping new land, designing the woodland and getting his hands dirty when is comes to planting season. “I got involved with ANT as they are an inspiring organisation with a great mission. We need more trees, a lot more, which is why I think the work of ANT and others like them is vital for our collective happiness and future”.

Funded by DEFRA and our generous donors

Nick Self

Woodland Management Consultant

Former ANT trustee – one of five founding trustees. Hazeland Site Guardian and Ecological Advisor

Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund

Carys Holbeck

Administration and Publicity Officer

Carys is a Political Theory MA graduate from the University of Sheffield, and is passionate about climate action and sustainability. During her time at university, she helped work on the ‘Wilder Future’ campaign with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust which focused on pushing for a stronger environment act to protect and boost biodiversity.

Most recently, she has been working for a local Bristol housing charity in administration and marketing, and now brings her organisational and publicity skills to ANT!

Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and our generous donors

Tristan Scott

Director’s Personal Assistant

Tristan has several years experience as a Personal Assistant. They are concerned about the impact of the climate and nature emergencies. Natural flood management is of particular interest to Tristan due to the personal impact flooding had on their life. 

In their spare time, Tristan also supports trans and queer people in crisis. Tristan is registered blind and has a Labrador guide dog.

Funded by the DWP

Other Volunteers

Chris Horwood

Volunteer Woodland Officer

Chris Horwood has had a career in international development and aid mainly in Africa and Asia, but is currently studying a Masters in Forestry at Bangor University as he navigates a switch into the woodland and forestry sector. “Given the current environmental emergency I want to spend the rest of my working life involved in planting trees and improving our collective stewardship of trees.”

Tommaso Jucker

Volunteer Woodland Advisor

Tommaso is a NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, where he leads a research group called Selva Lab. Prior to joining the University of Bristol he was a Research Scientist at CSIRO in Australia and obtained a PhD at the University of Cambridge. His research is broadly focused on understanding the processes that shape the structure, diversity and function of the world’s forests, in an effort to predict how these will respond to rapid environmental change and how this in turn will impact society. At Selva Lab Tommaso and his group do this using everything from manipulative experiments, long-term field observations and cutting-edge remote sensing technologies.


Former ANT trustee – one of five founding trustees. Local musician and music teacher. Hazeland Site Guardian. Coordinator for North Wilts Friends of the Earth. Founder of the Chippenham Tree Mapping Project.