Meet the team

The Churches Conservation Trust is a registered charity governed by a Board of Trustees, with a staff team of around 50 people.

The Churches Conservation Trust is a registered charity governed by a Board of Trustees, which is chaired by Peter Ainsworth.

The Board delegates day-to-day management of the charity to the Chief Executive, Peter Aiers. He leads a small senior management team who themselves manage around 50 (full time equivalent) staff working in national and regional teams.

The staff are from many professional backgrounds and are responsible for ensuring that our churches are in good repair and open to the public. They support over 1,000 regular volunteers and manage a wide range of projects and events.

Our Board of Trustees

  • Peter Ainsworth

    Chairman of Trustees

    Peter Ainsworth was appointed Chairman of The Churches Conservation Trust for a three year term in July 2016.

    Peter has been UK Chair of the Big Lottery Fund since 2011 and is a Board member of the Environment Agency. He was previously Chairman of Plantlife International and the Elgar Foundation.

    Peter previously served as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture and Shadow Secretary of State of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He was Member of Parliament for East Surrey for 18 years until 2010. His involvement in the heritage sector dates back to 1995, when he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for National Heritage. He was a member of the DCMS Select Committee in 2009-10.

    A former investment banker, he is a founding partner of sustainability consultancy the Robertsbridge Group. He is also a Patron of the College of St Barnabas, a residential community of retired Anglican clergy in Lingfield, Surrey.

  • William Donaldson

    William Donaldson was appointed to the Board of Trustees in July 2017.  Born and raised in Western Canada, he moved to the UK to read Theology at the University of Wales. Following an early charity-sector career in property management with the Church of England, he became a founding shareholder, now Group Director and Co-Chairman of Mainstay Group, providing industry-leading services to the property sector. He has also led successful joint venture projects, notably with the Pemberstone Group in acquiring residential freeholds between 2006-2011.  A significant voice in residential asset management, he continues to work with some of the UK's largest pension funds.

    Will is delighted that his CCT trusteeship brings together his love for churches, architecture and entrepreneurship.

  • Edward Harley OBE

    Edward Harley was educated at Cambridge and for many years he worked at Cazenove and Co where he was a partner. He is Chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel and the Mappa Mundi Trust. He is also involved in a wide range of charities including the Burghley House Preservation Trust, the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Goldsmiths’ Company and the advisory council of Tate Britain. He is a past president of the Historic Houses Association and a Lay Canon of Hereford Cathedral.

    In January 2018 Edward was awarded an OBE for services to heritage.

  • Sir Simon Jenkins FSA FRSL

    Trustee

    Journalist and writer Sir Simon Jenkins FSA FRSL was appointed to The Churches Conservation Trust’s board of trustees in January 2016.

    A broadcaster, journalist and former Chairman of the National Trust, Sir Simon has a keen interest and knowledge of historic churches and is the author of the popular Penguin books ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’, 'Country Churches' and 'England's Cathedrals'.

    Sir Simon writes columns for both The Guardian and London's Evening Standard and was previously a commentator and editor for The Times.

  • Beth McHattie

    Trustee

    Beth was appointed a trustee in 2014. She is a communications professional with experience spanning the charity, heritage and creative industries sectors. As communications lead for Allchurches Trust, one of the UK’s largest grant-making trusts, she works closely with churches and charities addressing homelessness, poverty and isolation and is involved in a pioneering new partnership in the education sector.  

    Beth began her career at Dulwich Picture Gallery before joining Sotheby’s where she become Head of Corporate Press and was instrumental in establishing Sotheby’s Asia. She moved to English Heritage in 1996, where she launched campaigns including Heritage at Risk and the Angel Awards and led a complex process of transition to the new Historic England brand.  

    Beth has recently been appointed a Leadership Fellow of St George’s House, Windsor and is an advisor to a leading crowdfunding company.

  • Liz Peace CBE

    Trustee

    Liz was Chief Executive of the British Property Federation for thirteen years until her retirement in 2014. She was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to the property industry.


    Liz now has a portfolio career with a range of non-executive, advisory and charity roles, at Howard de Walden Estates, RPS Group, RDI REIT, Holtby Turner, and the Churches Conservation Trust. She is Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Fund and Centre for London and President of the Property Litigation Association. She is a member of the Mayor of London’s Homes for Londoners Board and chairs the Government Property Agency. In 2017 Liz was appointed Chairman of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) and in 2018 she was appointed Chairman of the shadow Sponsor Board for the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme.

     

  • Carol Pyrah

    Trustee & chairman of Conservation Committee

    Carol was appointed a trustee in April 2018.

    Carol is currently Chief Executive of the Historic Coventry Trust. She was previously Assitant Director of Planning at Historic England, formerly English Heritage, where she spent over two decades in senior roles. An archaeologist by training, she has had a longstanding interest and involvement in churches and their conservation, ranging from her previous role as founding editor of Church Archaeology (the journal of the Society for Church Archaeology) to being a current member of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.

  • Sue Wilkinson

    Trustee

    Sue was appointed to the Board of Trustees in July 2017.  She was an executive board director at the National Trust until the end of 2016 with responsibility for membership, fundraising, volunteering and participation.  During her career with the National Trust, she led several multi-million pound IT and digital investment projects.  She also led a successful brand review, developed the Trust’s approach to visitor experience and customer service and was the executive board lead on tourism.

    Sue is currently a trustee of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and the Medical Research Foundation.  She is a board director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) and chair of the Canal & River Trust Living Waterways Awards.  In earlier years she served on the Visit England Board and as a trustee of the Institute of Fundraising.

Our Senior Management Team

  • Peter Aiers

    Chief Executive

    Joining us in 2007, Peter had a specific role to find sustainable solutions to complex urban churches within our collection and to enable more community involvement in the care of our churches. Peter became Director for the South East in 2012 and Director of the North region in 2016.

    After a career start at English Heritage, Peter worked as a local authority conservation officer and sat on the Peterborough Diocesan Advisory Committee. He became the first Conservation Officer employed in the Church of England, for the Diocese of London, before becoming a Project Development Manager supporting parishes in the maintenance of the buildings in their care and finding sustainable solutions for historic churches through grant aid and commercial development.

    In August 2017 Peter was announced as our new Chief Executive.

    paiers@thecct.org.uk | @PeterAiers

  • Sarah Robinson

    Deputy CEO and Director of Conservation

    After studying engineering at Leicester University Sarah spent six years as a structural engineer in London, working on a number of historic buildings including Hampton Court Palace and Southwell Minster.

    In 1991 she won a scholarship with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and spent 9 months gaining hands-on experience of historic building repair and conservation. In 1995 Sarah joined us as a Conservation Manager and became Director of Conservation in 2003. In 2010 Sarah became Deputy Chief Executive.

    srobinson@thecct.org.uk | T. 0845 303 2760

  • Colin Shearer

    Director of Regions

    Colin leads a team of regional managers dedicated to sustaining churches and fulfilling their potential for community use and as heritage visitor attractions with the support of volunteers and partner organisations. He also holds a national strategic remit for volunteering. 

    Colin previously held directorate roles covering operations, planning and communications with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award after promoting the scheme, through volunteers, throughout Scotland. Colin’s career began in the rail industry as Area Manager for the West Highland line. In this role, he was instrumental in reintroducing steam-hauled trains - which continue today as a top tourist attraction.

    cshearer@thecct.org.uk | T. 07721 866 424

  • Stuart Popple

    Director of Resources and Finance

    Stuart is the Director of Resources and Finance at The Churches Conservation Trust. As such he holds director-level responsibility for our finances and resources, including HR and IT.

    finance@thecct.org.uk | T. 0845 303 2760