It may sound like a cliché but working at the Hawk Conservancy Trust is much more than just a job. Everyone in our team plays a key role and shares the same passion and commitment to help us achieve our mission – the conservation of birds of prey. Some of them have some quite unusual talents too, which you may be surprised to read below!
In her role, Alice has been able to combine her passion for conservation with her design and marketing background. She’s very happy to be part of a well-respected organisation which, in conservation terms, achieves so much and has such a good reputation.
Alice managed to gain her Open University degree while living and working in three different countries! A keen traveller, she heads abroad whenever she can and likes to recreate the food she’s had on her travels at home.
Alice once took a train from Mongolia to China and awoke to find blood dripping on her face from mutton being illegally smuggled in the roof!
Retail and Admissions Assistant
Alison first came to the Trust as a volunteer before becoming an employee. She likes being a part of all the good experiences our visitors have here and enjoys walking her dogs and going to the gym.
Alison has a bronze award for adult tap dancing!
As part of the Trust’s Poison Response Activities, we have partnered with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the University of Reading to deliver conservation actions. As part of this work, André trains field staff and rangers in Poison Intervention Techniques and also the use of Poison Response Kits, provided by the Trust. This vital work aims to reduce the impact of poisoning on vultures and other wildlife in southern and east Africa.
For André, a bad day in the field is still better than a day in the office. In fact, even when he’s not working, Andre spends as much time in the bush as possible, especially with a range of camera equipment at hand.
On average, André sleeps for only four hours each night!
Head of Development
Andy needed to complete twelve weeks’ work experience as part of his course at Lackham College, Wiltshire. One of his lecturers suggested he try the Trust, as he’d previously built new aviaries for the three birds of prey at the college. He’s been with us since and his favourite part of the job has been releasing the bald eagles.
He has two boys and enjoys walking his dog with his wife and playing tennis.
Andy could have ended up in the Scottish Highlands instead of here at the Trust! He was offered a full-time job there after previously volunteering for social services.
Finance and Administration Manager
BA Hons, AAT
In 2005, when the Trust first took over the Visitor Centre, Anya was hired as an external consultant for advice. Realising we’d need someone full-time, Anya was offered the post of finance and administration manager which, we’re happy to say, she accepted!
Her job constantly brings up new challenges which she enjoys finding the solutions to. When she does manage to escape the madness of the office, Anya’s a volunteer driver for the Wiltshire LINK Scheme.
Anya is a self-declared dreamer!
Life President and Trust Founder
It was Ashley’s parents, Reg and Hilary Smith, who bought Sarson Farm (the site of the Trust) in the 1950s. In 1965, the year Ashley was born, it became Weyhill Zoo. Ashley worked there as a child after school and at weekends and started full-time at 16. He’s seen the Trust achieve many great things but he’s especially proud of the National Bird of Prey Hospital™ and the creation of Reg’s wildflower meadow, both in memory of his parents.
Ashley enjoys commentating the Valley of the Eagles demonstration although driving the tractor comes a close second! Even when he’s not at the Trust, Ashley still follows his passion and often travels to the Scottish Highlands to watch Golden and White-tailed Eagles.
It’s taken 10 years but Ashley has finally mastered the waltz!
Bird Team and Head of Section
Ben has been coming to the Trust since he was 10 years old as a visitor and a member. When he was 13, he came every Sunday to volunteer and when he turned 16, was offered a summer job here. We knew someone who was so dedicated to the Trust would be perfect for our apprenticeship scheme and Ben is enjoying every bit of it. His favourite jobs at the Trust are flying the Black Kites, the Bald Eagles and Troy the Tawny Owl in demonstrations. Ben plays a lot of sport including football, cricket and badminton.
Ben was a district winning cricket captain for three years in a row!
Head of Conservation and Research
BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, FRSB, FLS, FRGS
Who would have thought that finding a book on falconry in a second-hand bookstore could have such a big impact? It did for Campbell, who spotted the address for the Trust in the back of the book and wrote in to ask for a job, thinking it would be fun to fly birds for the summer. Nowadays, Campbell’s research is helping with the conservation of birds of prey all over the world.
In his spare time, Campbell enjoys messing about in boats (responsibly, of course!) and is very fond of Northern Sung monumental landscape art.
Despite travelling all over the world and being a part of groundbreaking research, Campbell’s considers his greatest achievement to be getting his wife to marry him!
Carol began her role here as office administrator and thinks the Trust is a lovely place to work. She spends her spare time with her children, Claire and Gareth and her grandson, Jacob, who she already brings to the Trust on a regular basis.
Carol used to do belly dancing!
Admissions and Retail Assistant Manager
Having enjoyed many family visits to the Trust and been inspired by our wonderful birds and the enthusiasm of our team, Carol jumped at the opportunity to apply for a jobs with us. Bringing over 20 years of retail experience to the role, Carol is excited to combine her skills and knowledge with her passion for the environment, birds and conservation. When not at work, Carol can often be found running through the Hampshire countryside or at the gym.
Carol once ran a 17-mile half marathon (she blames the race coordinators!).
National Bird of Prey Hospital™ Manager and Collection Manager
Cedric came over from France in 2005 for five months’ work experience. At the end of his placement, he was asked to stay on until the end of the season. This then led to him becoming a full-time member of the team and he’s been here ever since! Cedric loves running the vulture courses and likes being able to put a smile on everyone’s faces by sharing what he does with them. He likes peace and quiet, spending time with his wife and being in his garden.
Cedric is a big fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books but doesn’t think Tom Cruise was the right choice for the movie!
Front of House Supervisor
Emilea applied for her role after hearing about it on the grapevine and, on top of her usual responsibilities, enjoys helping to organise the functions – especially Christmas events!
Emilea has swum with sharks!
Head of Living Collection
After completing a twelve week work placement at the Trust, Gary continued to volunteer whenever he could. When the position of junior falconer was offered to him, he jumped at the chance! He’s now been at the Trust for nearly two decades, delighted to be living his childhood dream of being able to train, fly and work with birds of prey.
Gary somehow manages to live the bird of prey life and stay married and has two children, three dogs, guinea pigs and a Merlin!
Gary has a special BPBH qualification. (Blue Peter Badge Holder!)
Conservation and Research Liaison
Hannah made more life changes than most when she took up her position. She moved back from Tanzania, where she had been working with rural village communities to help them deal with the human-elephant conflict whilst also trying to improve attitudes towards elephants. This background gave Hannah a particular interest in our poison response work with vultures in southern Africa, and how this is linked with elephant poaching.
Hannah is a keen environmentalist, and in her spare time can usually be found walking her dogs in the Hampshire countryside.
When moving back from Tanzania, Hannah brought her two African street dogs with her; an experience she describes as one of the worst of her life!
Registrar and Bird Team
In 1994, Jane started as a volunteer to take a break from working on a computer during the week. This grew from a few hours to spending all her spare time at the Trust. She went back to college to gain her National Diploma in Animal Care which led to her becoming a full-time employee in 2000.
Jane has been a key part of getting the Trust’s apprenticeship scheme up and running and likes the fact that no two days are the same.
Jane is learning hypnosis and can play Away In A Manger on the flute!
Catering and Events Manager
Jemma started as a weekend assistant when she was 16 and worked at the Trust for a couple of years. She then came back to us in a managerial role soon after. Jemma finds it good to be part of an organisation that is so passionate about what it does. Outside of work, Jemma is kept busy ferrying her children about and doing the usual ‘mum’ tasks!
Jemma is the third generation of her family to work at the Trust!
BvetMed, CertZooMed, Cbiol, MRDB, MRCVS, RCVS, Advanced Practitioner in Zoological Medicine
Surprisingly, John used to be afraid of birds when he was a student. He decided to face his fear, however, and do his work experience at the Hawk Conservancy Trust. He absolutely loved it and came back as a volunteer every holiday. When he graduated, Dennis, the Trust’s vet was retiring so John stepped right in. That was 28 years ago!
John finds the excellent working relationships everyone has at the Trust a key part to its success. As well as our designated veterinarian, John is also Chairman of the European Association of Avian Veterinarians and will become President of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association in April. He likes to watch cricket – but only if he can find the time!
John really loves fireworks!
Senior Catering Assistant
Judy began her career here by just helping out occasionally but has since taken on a lot more responsibility – one of which is baking the delicious cakes for Feathers Restaurant. Judy likes walking and being with her family.
Judy is Jemma’s (our catering and events manager’s) mum!
Having been a member, work experience student and volunteer, Kat jumped at the chance to join the Trust’s team in 2018. With fond memories of attending Members’ Working Days and raking leaves from the woodland arena, Kat now most enjoys working with the team of Hooded Vultures. Kat’s dream is to work on conservation projects in Africa; she’d love to work with vultures, pangolins, elephants and rhino.
When not at work, you’re most likely to find Kat napping with her cat, Theo!
Katy’s grandparents would bring her to the Trust at least once a year and, once she was old enough, she started volunteering. She enjoyed it so much that she would come in as many days as she could and was subsequently offered the apprenticeship. One of the highlights for Katy is working in the National Bird of Prey Hospital™. When she’s not at the Trust, you might find her reading fantasy novels.
Katy can play the flute!
Marketing and Communications Manager
Louise came to visit the Trust a few times and was really taken with the whole place. When she spotted an advertisement for her role, she applied straight away and joined the team shortly afterwards. Every day is different for Louise and she really does learn something new every day. Outside of work, she spends most of her time with her two daughters.
Louise once went to the Royal Albert Hall to listen to a classical concert with John Noakes and Valerie Singleton!
Matt was on leave from an overseas conservation project when he decided to come to the Trust. For him, the best part of his job is having the privilege of visiting the nests of wild birds and the fact that he can play a small part in the development of knowledge of the biology of wild birds. Matt will often be found watching or ringing birds in his spare time.
Matt prefers brown sauce to tomato ketchup!
Bird Team and Head of Section
Mike first came to the Trust on work experience from Merrist Wood College in Surrey. His favourite part of the Trust is our incubation room and he’s proud of the fact he’s been able to incubate, hatch out and hand rear the large vultures, Cassius, Kipling and Macawber. When he’s not at the Trust, Mike spends as much time as he can with his family.
This one’s for Tolkien fans – Mike nearly called his son Strider (but this was outvoted)!
Education Officer and Collection Manager
Miriam began working with birds of prey in 1997. Having been a member of the Trust for ten years, in 2011, Miriam’s dream of working here came true. Since then, she’s been able to apply her vast experience to many of the Trust’s projects including our annual vulture ringing project in Africa and the KEITS training of our apprentices.
One of the job’s highlights for Miriam is training birds for the flying team. She loves an underdog too so if a bird is challenging or has issues, you could say Miriam will take it under her wing (pun intended).
Miriam loves being out in the countryside whether it’s on foot or, more recently, on her new Harley Davidson 48!
Nicola brings a wealth of administration experience, combined with a passion to help support and promote the conservation work of the Trust. She has spent many happy days as a visitor here with her family and was thrilled to be able to join the team in 2018.
Nicola is most proud of her family, and she claims her greatest achievement has been keeping a close and loving relationship with her teenagers whilst they complete GCSE and A level exams!
Nicola is a qualified Scuba Diver!
Paul has been working in the catering industry for more than 35 years. Having previously worked 100+ hours each week, Paul had to adjust to the new work-life balance of working at the Trust, with so much free time that he had to go out to find new hobbies! He loves the variety of work at the Trust, from catering formal corporate events to the daily running of a busy attraction restaurant.
Paul catered for two of George Michael’s album launch parties!
BA, BSc, MBA
Penny made quite an entrance when she limped into her interview after breaking her ankle four days previously – it’s a good thing the lift was working! The hard work Penny made to get to her interview was nothing compared to the hard work she’s put in to the Trust over the years and she’s proud to see the amazing team around her doing the same. It’s a tough job sometimes though, whether it’s watching a flying demonstration or sampling the new dishes in Feathers – all for quality control purposes of course!
Penny’s son, Toby, is her proudest achievement, although persuading her husband to get a dog comes a close second!
Penny is a big American football fan and supports the Michigan Wolverines!
Bird Team and Head of Section
Working at the Trust is a dream come true for Ria, who was offered a full-time position in 2016 after completing her apprenticeship here. Ria’s passion for birds all began with a Young Falconers’ Experience day at the Trust which her parents had given her as a present. After that, she volunteered here as much as possible while studying an animal management course for two years.
Ria was the first to graduate from the Trust’s apprenticeship scheme and now, as a full-time member of the bird team, she works on a section of the park every day and loves getting to know each individual bird’s personality. Ria’s hobbies include cross-stitching birds of prey as well as bird watching and travelling.
Ria used to play the drums and reached Grade 5. She was also in a band for three years!
Ryan did a five-week work placement at the Trust as part of his degree and then volunteered here for a year before becoming a permanent staff member. Before he learnt to drive, he used to walk the 10-mile round trip to and from Grateley station every day! He enjoys looking after the donkeys, Mickey and Molly.
Ryan has a lot of hobbies which include hiking, reading, listening to heavy metal and going to festivals. He’s a black belt in karate and has also won the Junior Wiltshire Indoor Bowls Championship.
Ryan likes to write and is currently working on a children’s book!
Admissions and Retail Manager
With a background in retail at visitor attractions and a passion for birds and nature, Simon jumped at the chance to work at the Trust and joined the team in 2018. Simon loves working with such a ‘happy bunch’, though his favourite part of his job is sourcing new and unusual stock for the shop such as our cuddly Secretary Birds (a UK first!).
When not at work, Simon can usually be found ironing and geocaching. In fact, Simon is so dedicated to geocaching that he has a record 15,000 in one month!
Simon was a Scout Leader for 12 years!
Bird Team and Head of Section
After arriving at the Trust in 2007 on work experience, Simon enjoyed it so much he came back as a volunteer and never really left! Now a staff member, he likes spending time with a huge variety of birds of prey.
Simon is a 4th degree expert in taekwondo and has been training for over 10 years!
Retail and Admissions Assistant
Sonia was a member and volunteer who started out working part-time in the restaurant and the shop. After the retail and admissions manager retired, Sonia took over on a full-time basis. Sonia is now happily retired but she still finds time to work at the Trust part-time. Outside of work, you might find her at a classic car show where she’ll be showing off her classic 1964 Volvo.
Sonia has worked full time since she was 15 – a total of 56 years. She’s finally retired aged 71!
Sue has always been a keen visitor to the Trust, along with her family. Once Sue’s children were old enough, and she didn’t need to fit her work around them, she started looking for a role that she would enjoy and jumped at the chance to work here at the Trust. Since starting here in 2019, she has loved being part of a team whose aim is to make sure visitors have a great experience.
When not at work, Sue loves the great outdoors. You can usually find her out with her dog Callie though she does also take part in running events.
Sue once held a five-inch tarantula, something she claims is her greatest achievement!
Fundraising Events Manager and Bird Team
Tom’s interest in birds of prey is inspired by his grandparents love of the great outdoors, and many family days outside together. However, it was a bird of prey experience at the age of 12 that really started the ball rolling for Tom. He has worked with birds of prey at a number of different centres, before coming to the Trust in early 2019.
Outside work, Tom can usually be found exploring the countryside with his chocolate Labrador, Delilah.
Tom once played Prince Hamlet in an outdoor Shakespeare production and had to learn over 3000 lines!
Retail and Admissions Assistant
Sylvia has been at the Trust for more than 10 years, going from visitor to member to volunteer to staff member! She loves meeting and greeting the public and has two children who she works with in her other job.
Sylvia once helped cook for the Queen!
President: Chris Packham
Vice-presidents: Mark Anderson, Major Nigel Lewis, Sonja Rowe and John Ellicock
Chairman: Scott Jones
Directors: Mathew Dryden, Nick Gent, Adam Johnson, Denzil Sharp, Gary Wyles
We are so grateful to have the support of many volunteers, without whom we simply could not achieve the amount that we do.
If you would like to consider joining our fantastic team of volunteers, read all about what is involved here.