Meet our team
CPRE Warwickshire is made up of about 25 volunteers and three part-time staff. We are active across Warwickshire and are always on the look out for new helpers across the county. We have a small office in Warwick, shared with another charity.
Sir Andrew Watson Bt President
Andrew did National Service in the Life Guards as Intelligence Officer. He joined the Anglo American Corporation for two years in London and then a further three years in Johannesburg where he managed Transvaal Manganese and in his spare time helped run music and drama school productions in the townships. Was called to bar 1966 and was Recorder of the Crown Court between 1991- 2005.
His love of the theatre meant his being a Governor of the RSC for fourteen years was a pleasure. A keen tennis player and walker, Andrew is presently on the Cornish leg of the round Britain coastal walk – so only a few thousand more miles to go!
(Andrew with his wife Christabel and various dogs on the South West Coast path)
Judith Cobham-Lowe OBE Chair
Judith has been involved in the not-for-profit sector since her first job as a Researcher with ‘London Youth’. She then worked in UK Business Schools including City, Manchester, and Oxford, ending up as Deputy Director of the European Business School. The core of her career has been as MD of a Corporate Strategy practice in the City of London. Marriage brought her to rural South Warwickshire, and to a portfolio career of non-executive Director roles in 13 organisations, including five charities.
She first became involved with CPRE when the local authority decided that the productive farmland surrounding the family home would be enhanced by a 1,000-space Park and Ride for Leamington Spa. The support, advice, and planning expertise she received from those who are now her colleagues, made her feel that she ought to get more actively involved. One of her main concerns is to avoid the needless destruction of good agricultural land.
Charles Melville Wright Trustee
Having started my working life as reinsurance broker at Lloyd’s, I escaped from London to take a job in a family firm and, following that, I have now been a fundraising consultant for nearly twenty-five years, working with a variety of charities from home.
I live with my wife, two kittens, four horses and any number of roaming deer near Shipston in South Warwickshire. We love our hidden home and enjoy walking, riding, and cycling straight from our doorstep. I’ve always been closely involved in the countryside, as chairman of our family trust and as a director of a farm owned by a charity. I particularly enjoy watching the birds, insects and other wildlife surrounding our house.
(Charles and Katherine framed!)
Janet Gee Trustee
My heart has always been in the countryside. I grew up on a smallholding, so I was surrounded by nature and greenery from an early age. People say the countryside is quiet but it really isn’t: go for a walk in spring and you’ll hear blackbirds in the hedgerows, skylarks singing high above and the wind rushing through the grass. I’m always out there, walking, cycling, birdwatching, and if I’m not in the countryside I miss it!
I was Chief Executive of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs for five and a half years. After that, I became involved with our local parish council, which I currently chair. The council is in Green Belt and CPRE Warwickshire are fairly active here, working to look after our wonderful part of the West Midlands. I was inspired by this group of people who were so passionate about the countryside and decided to become a member, and then a trustee.
Michael Bird Trustee
Despite an engineering apprenticeship served in the depths of Tyseley, Birmingham, and a career as a mechanical design engineer working at the cutting edge of technology for the University of Birmingham, Michael has always loved and held a deep interest in the countryside. A member of CPRE since the 1970’s, Michael came to CPRE Warwickshire Branch in 2012 as a representative of Warwickshire Area of the Ramblers, of which he is both Footpath and Countryside Secretary. He is now a Trustee of the Branch and member of our Planning Committee and brings to us a deep knowledge of Rights of Way Law and Access Legislation. Michael lives in Solihull, and when he can spare the time from his footpath work pursues his lifelong interests in walking, geology, industrial archaeology and early music.
Nicholas Butler Trustee
I joined CPRE Warwickshire twenty-one years ago when I came to live in this part of the world, a natural result of having been secretary of the amenity society in Wivenhoe, a town outside Colchester, my former home.
I comment on planning applications in the Stratford-upon-Avon District, send press releases to our media contacts and contribute articles to our house magazine. I am a trustee of the branch and Regional Secretary to CPRE West Midlands.
Like all of you who read this, I am most concerned about the constant threat to the countryside and I do my utmost to protect it.
[Nicholas can be spotted around the south of the County on his Vespa scooter, similar model pictured.]
Vita Seren Volunteer Website Administrator
I used to help run an organic small-holding. A friend described it as ‘living like Heidi, without the goats’. There was the tiniest log cabin, no hot running water, a compost toilet way up a field and a Baby Belling with resident earwigs. Eating almost all meals outside even in the middle of winter, I felt connected to nature in an extraordinary way. When I left to return to my career as a solicitor, I vowed to continue eating outside in all weathers. Sadly, that fell by the wayside once I had reacquainted myself with the comforts of central heating. But my love of nature has persisted as strong as ever. And having retired after twenty years investigating potential miscarriages of justice in the criminal justice system, I leapt at the chance that the CPRE offers to work for ‘a thriving, beautiful countryside for everyone’. Having now moved to South Wales I no longer feel able to continue my Trustee role but hope to be able to look after the website from afar.
John Wharam Volunteer
John retired from the role of Branch Development Manager at the end of 2022, only to be almost immediately called upon to help out in the office again when Myles was away. His background was with BT where he worked from one of the London offices as Sales Manager in the Conferencing Division. Prior to that, he worked for a variety of commercial organisations including Avon Rubber in their Medical Group producing disposable blood transfusion equipment. He ventured into business on his own account manufacturing electrical domestic appliances (in the days before everything was made in China). Initial academic training may have lead him into teaching but the appeal of industry and commerce was stronger.
He is married with one son who is based in Singapore. Interests include photography, fishing, cycling and exploring the countryside both here in Warwickshire and further afield. He believes strongly that the countryside should be protected from unsatisfactory and unsustainable developments and supports CPRE and other organisations to further this ambition.
Myles Thornton Branch Manager
If someone said I would be happily involved with the wonderful world of planning ten years ago I would have called for a straightjacket for them. But after 20 years of bashing metal and processing plastic and then working with friends building houses and selling food from France, I have been working for this wonderful charity for ten years now and love it. Am also a Wasps rugby and English cricket fan, a Nicks, wine and mini wired haired dachshund called Mattie lover; rubbish, and very derivative sculptor, and golfer!
[pictured with his partner Nicola on a recent trip to Ghent]
Elizabeth Nicholson Hon Membership Secretary
I grew up in the north east of England and moved down to the Midlands over 40 years ago and have lived in Snitterfield ever since. I love living here but do miss being by the sea, we couldn’t be further away really.
I worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company for 16 years, finally as Technical and Production Assistant. My dream job really as I am passionate about the theatre in all forms.
My other passion is environmental issues and conservation. I am a keen bird watcher and spend a lot of time bird watching either at home, walking and visiting nature reserves.
Tony Golding Designer
Hi I’m Tony Golding, (aka Tony G) one of the volunteers for CPRE Warwickshire. I have a design background, and a business which I retired from some years ago. I got involved though a friend to take over the design and production of the Outlook magazine. I thought I’d set up a new format, get it in motion and I’d move on. Some 4 years later I’m still here, and quite enjoy being involved in such a good cause. It’s a great little team, with some great and passionate characters, I love a good character!
I consider myself an outdoor naturalist ‘trainee’, I love learning about nature, birds in particular, and I love a good fight to protect this precious planet, being vegan is one way we can all make a small difference. I shall be here a while, long enough to be lying on the tracks of HS2 with Myles in front of course when the first train is due!
Mark Robbins Sustainable Development Volunteer
Spent a good deal of his life working for the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, now the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (University of Aberystwyth). Recent specialities have been studies in sustainability including Miscanthus as a renewable fuel.
Now enjoying work at CPRE and with a particular interest in planning, solar farms, and rural land use. Previously a farmer and still a MeadowMaker in the Midlands.
- It’s the carbon stupid: A botanical perspective on global resource allocation Green Economics Institute, Oxford (2010)
- The Ecology of UK Farm Payments Oxford Real Farming Conference (2016)
Jean Walters Planning Committee Chair
I am a retired Chartered Town Planner with nearly 50 years’ experience in planning, including acting for developers and landowners on major developments throughout the country; so poacher turned game keeper of the English Countryside. I am the Chair of the Planning Committee and have been a planning volunteer for 7 years.
Rose Guiot Volunteer
I volunteer to help out at the annual Fun Ride. I am also in regular touch with John and Myles about HS2, for which a path is now being carved through the countryside near my village (Cubbington).
Fran Hick Volunteer
I’m social media and website volunteer at CPRE Warwickshire. After gaining my degree from the University of Birmingham and a few twists and turns as to what career I wanted, I decided to use my communications skills to raise awareness of environmental issues. I can’t remember if it was the ‘Attenborough effect’ but I strove to live more sustainably and am now a passionate environmentalist. You’ll often find me out litter-picking with my miniature dachshund, or getting out in nature thrashing my bicycle down local green ways.
I reached out to John and Myles to see if I could be of assistance and here we are over a year and a half later! I love campaigning on local and national issues and helping them reach a wider audience. Volunteering is the best decision I ever made.
Barry Elkington Trustee
Born and brought up in Birmingham I moved to Warwick in 1980 when starting work at IBM, and then to Kenilworth in 1984 and have lived in the town ever since.
My main hobby is orienteering, a sport that requires competitors to navigate as quickly as possible between checkpoints marked on a special orienteering map, choosing their own route in unfamiliar terrain.
Hence I spend a lot of time outdoors as these competitions take place in forests and woodlands, on the fells, in country parks, etc.
Locally I like to run across the fields along footpaths and bridleways and want to help protect the environment in Warwickshire.