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.

  • The Reverend Duncan Dormor

    Trustee

    Duncan Dormor was appointed a trustee in July 2013. Duncan is CEO of USPG and an Affiliated Lecturer teaching sociology and anthropology of religion.

    He has been a university representative on the General Synod since 2005 and is a member of the Church of England's Mission Theology Advisory Group and the English Anglican - Roman Catholic committee. Duncan was ordained into the Church of England in 1995. Following a curacy at St Peter's, Wolverhampton in the Diocese of Lichfield, he was appointed Chaplain of St John's College in 1998 and was Dean of the College from 2002 to 2017. He has degrees from Oxford University in Human Sciences and Theology and prior to ordination worked for the charity One plus One: Marriage and Partnership Research.

  • Lady Lucy French

    Trustee

    Lucy became a trustee in 2013. She has been responsible for marketing, PR and revenue generation at St James, the first new theatre built in London for three decades, and has been instrumental in its launch in 2012 and subsequent success. 

    Lucy began her career in PR, events and journalism in Liverpool and London and over the years has honed her skills and focused her energies on the third sector, theatre and fundraising for the arts. Her previous roles include Head of Development at the Open Air Theatre in The Regent’s Park and at Hampstead Theatre. 

    Lucy is founder of a First World War centenary charity, Never Such Innocence, founded to ensure the nation’s children had the opportunity to play their part in the centenary commemorations through poetry and art. Lucy also sits on the Board of the Victoria Business Improvement District and on the Development Board of Artichoke and is a patron of the Remember WW1 Campaign. She has a longstanding passion for the countryside and its churches.

  • 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

    A well-known figure in the property industry, Liz Peace served as Chief Executive of the British Property Federation for thirteen years until 2014. During that time, she changed the Government’s perception of the commercial property industry, established it as a key voice in policy debate, dissuaded the Government from legislating on commercial leases, won innumerable changes to planning and tax legislation and, working as part of a pan-industry alliance, persuaded the Government to introduce real estate investment trusts.

    Liz holds a range of non-executive, advisory and charity roles, including at Morgan Sindall plc, Redrow plc, Howarde de Walden Estates, Peabody, Turley, and the Architectural Heritage Fund. She is the chairman of LandAid, the property industry’s principal charity and is also chairing the shadow board for the Curzon Urban Regeneration Company in Birmingham. 

    Liz was awarded a CBE in the 2008 New Year Honours list for services to the property industry.

  • Carol Pyrah

    Trustee & chairman of Conservation Committee

    Carol was appointed a trustee in April 2018.

    Carol is currently Assistant Director of Planning at Historic England, formerly English Heritage, where she has 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.

    E. paiers@thecct.org.uk | T. 07919 274165 | @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. She is currently our Acting CEO.

    E. 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.

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

  • Anthony Bennett

    Director of Development

    As Director of Development, Anthony leads a team with responsibility for our national marketing, fundraising and PR; and a national strategic remit to develop our Arts, Visitor Experience and Tourism.

    Anthony has worked in fundraising and development for over sixteen years. His considerable experience during that time includes helping to raise £41m for the restoration of the English National Opera’s London Coliseum and serving as Director of Development at the World Wide Fund for Nature. He studied at Glasgow School of Art and took an MA at the Chelsea School of Art in Public Art and Architecture before embarking on a career in the ecclesiastical antiques trade. He is a trustee of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.

     

    E. abennett@thecct.org.uk | T. 020 7841 0412

  • 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.

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

Our Conservation team

We mange between 50 and 80 conservation projects each year across our estate of historic churches. Meet the talented team behind those projects.

  • 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. She is currently our Acting CEO.

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

  • Gabriella Misuriello

    Conservation Project Manager, South East

    Gabriella qualified as a Building Engineer at the University of Basillicata, Italy, where she carried out research into urban regeneration and heritage conservation, followed by an international Masters of Science in European Construction. After graduating, she joined Studio De Tommasi, where she worked on a number of prestigious projects including the St Nicholas Basilica in Bari, the castles of Melfi and Brindsi, and the archaeological Carthaginian battle site of Canne. Gabriella moved to England in 2000 and joined us in 2004.

  • Dawn Whitton

    Conservation Project Manager, North

    Dawn grew up in Durham and studied at Newcastle, Leicester and Colchester, obtaining an undergraduate degree in Fine Art, a Postgraduate Diploma in Library Conservation and an MA in Architectural Building Conservation. Dawn has worked in historic building conservation for Essex County Council and North Yorkshire County Council, where she also worked as consultant Conservation Officer for the North Moors National Park Authority. Dawn joined us in 2002.

  • Meriel O'Dowd

    Conservation Project Manager, West

    Meriel studied MSc Historic Building Conservation at Oxford Brookes University before working at The Georgian Group as a caseworker and then becoming a Chartered Building Surveyor running historic building repair projects - including involvement in the award-winning regeneration of our very own St Paul's Church in Bristol. Meriel joined us in early 2016 from Historic England where she was a Heritage At Risk surveyor for the South West region.

Our Development team

Our development team can be contacted by phone on: 0800 206 1463 or via fundraising@thecct.org.uk.

  • Anthony Bennett

    Director of Development

    As Director of Development, Anthony leads a team with responsibility for our national marketing, fundraising and PR; and a national strategic remit to develop our Arts, Visitor Experience and Tourism.

    Anthony has worked in fundraising and development for over sixteen years. His considerable experience during that time includes helping to raise £41m for the restoration of the English National Opera’s London Coliseum and serving as Director of Development at the World Wide Fund for Nature. He studied at Glasgow School of Art and took an MA at the Chelsea School of Art in Public Art and Architecture before embarking on a career in the ecclesiastical antiques trade. He is a trustee of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.

     

    E. abennett@thecct.org.uk | T. 020 7841 0412

  • Esmerelda France

    Membership Officer
  • Maggie

    Digital Media Officer

    Maggie combines a passion for writing and creating engaging digital content with her love of art and heritage and a thorough knowledge of SEO and online marketing.

    Maggie manages our social platforms, supports online marketing and PR and provides training and advice on all things digital to staff and volunteers.

  • Suzanne Harris

    Grant Fundraiser

    Suzanne Harris is Grant Fundraiser at The Churches Conservation Trust.

    Email: sharris@thecct.org.uk

  • Katrina Hurford

    National Marketing Manager

    Katrina leads on marketing strategy, brand development, audience insight, marketing partnerships and delivering campaigns that engage audiences and support our organisational aims.

    A communications and marketing specialist, Katrina has fifteen years' experience in the third sector, working across areas including the arts, heritage and conservation, leisure and tourism, and adult education.

     

  • Chloë Meredith

    Project Manager, Learning & Participation

    Chloë manages a range of conservation, learning and participation projects across the Trust's estate. She grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and for the past fourteen years has been working in the voluntary sector. Much of that time has been spent working for cultural heritage organisations in the UK, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand and Bolivia. In 2010 she completed her MA in Cultural Heritage. Chloë joined the Trust in 2015.

  • Rebecca Rees

    Project Director, Visitor Experience

    With a career in heritage spanning nearly 20 years Rebecca has worked with a variety of historic sites, including stately homes, castles, archaeological sites, and - since 2008 - churches. 

    Previous roles include Events Manager at English Heritage, Assistant Property Manager for the National Trust in Oxfordshire and Heritage Operations Manager at Medway Council.  She has worked in many areas including events and marketing, project development and fundraising, and operations management.

  • Jenny Ringo

    Membership Manager

    Jenny manages our membership schemes and leads our small individual giving team.

  • Jonathan Seal

    Membership Marketing Officer

    Jonathon co-ordinates membership events and communications. He joined us in 2016 from Royal Museums Greenwich where he was a Membership Officer.

  • Hannah Vernon

    Grants & Research Officer

Our Regeneration Team

We are a small creative team with experience across a range of sectors, including community regeneration, planning, social enterprise, historic conservation, site interpretation, and project management. We bring our skills together to deliver award-winning projects with people we work with.

  • Isabel Assaly

    Head of Regeneration and Consultancy

    Isabel joined The Churches Conservation Trust in 2011 and works in the award-winning Regeneration Team as Head of Regeneration and Consultancy. Currently managing a portfolio of projects for the Trust and external groups, Isabel works in partnership with local organisations and individuals to deliver meaningful and long-lasting benefits to local communities through adapting historic churches. Isabel also manages the CCT's European consultancy service.  

    Prior to the Trust, Isabel worked for the British Museum and for Natural England, the government adviser for the natural environment.

    Isabel is a qualified PRINCE 2 project manager and holds a RIBA Certificate in construction project management and an MSc in the Built Environment (Sustainable Heritage) from University College London.

  • Rachel Barrett

    Regeneration Manager

    Since joining the team in 2013, Rachel has worked on major capital projects All Souls Bolton and Quay Place, with particular emphasis on craft skills programming, financial management and activity planning.  Rachel is experienced in the community-led regeneration approach, and has worked with a wide range of professionals, organisations, charities and community groups, both nationally and internationally. 

    Prior to joining the Trust, Rachel worked for the Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust on their award-winning project, SHAPING 24, a cultural tourism initiative leading on community engagement projects and promoting 24 iconic buildings across Norwich and Ghent.

    Rachel has a RIBA Certificate in Construction Project Management, is a qualified project manager (PRINCE2) and has a MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies from the University of East Anglia.

  • Tessa Harvey

    Regeneration Officer

    Tessa joined the Trust in 2016, following a first career in publishing.  Alongside skills in project management and business development, she brings a range of experience in the heritage and museums sector, having worked on the ‘Painted Hall Phase Two’ project at the Old Royal Naval College and volunteered at UCL Museums (Teaching and Research Collections) and Dr Johnson’s House.

    Tessa has a particular interest in the management of mixed-use heritage sites and the evaluation of social impact. She holds an MSc in the Built Environment (Sustainable Heritage) from University College LondonShe is a qualified Prince2 project manager and an affiliate of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

  • Catherine Kemp

    Regeneration Officer

    Catherine joined the Trust in April 2017 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), bringing four years of experience guiding prospective applicants through a wide range of heritage projects. At HLF Catherine focussed on the Grants for Places of Worship programme in the West Midlands, supporting church organisations across the region.

    Prior to this Catherine spent six years working for arts and third sector organisations, building knowledge in charity fundraising and governance, project delivery, volunteer engagement and evaluating social impact. 

    Catherine has an MA in the Conservation of the Historic Environment from Birmingham City University, holds a PRINCE2 project management qualification and is an affiliate of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

  • Amelia Evans

    Regeneration Projects Assistant

    Amelia joined the Regeneration Team in April 2017 after gaining administration and co-ordination experience for two years in the Trust’s Resources Team. Prior to this, Amelia was Museum Resources Officer at Windsor & Royal Borough Museum working closely with the community and developing her interpretation skills.

    Amelia volunteered in a number of roles, such as Visitor Services Volunteer at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Curatorial Volunteer at Hackney Museum before starting at the Trust.

    Amelia is in her second year of a part-time, distance learning Masters in International Heritage Management at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage connected to the University of Birmingham.

  • Amanda Gerry

    Project Co-ordinator, The Canny Space

    Amanda is the Project Co-ordinator for The Canny Space, a transformational re-use project at Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland. 

    Amanda is an experienced project manager with over 25 years specialising in sustainable development and the not-for-profit sector. Having started her career in the military, she has held a number of project management roles in both the public and voluntary sectors across the North East.

    Amanda grew up in Somerset but has lived in the North East for the past 30 years. Amanda holds a certificate in both Project Management and Management Resilience and has a Prince Foundation certificate (online) having recently participated in the Emerging Leaders workshop with the Clore Foundation. She is passionate about community research, extending her CPD at Edinburgh University in research with children / young people.

    Amanda is a member of The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance and is a City of Sunderland Cultural Ambassador promoting good practice, partnership working, community development and heritage regeneration across the North East. She chairs CSAG (Canny Space Ambassadors Group) and sits on a number of boards including the Sunderland Cultural Partnership, Heritage Action Zone, Cultural Learning Group, and represents the CCT at the AHRC funded ‘Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience’ research project.

Our Volunteering team

Our volunteering team comprises nine regional Volunteering Officers, with strategic oversight for volunteering from Colin Shearer and administrative support by Amelia Evans.

  • 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.

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

  • Peter Clegg

    Volunteering Officer - Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire

    Email: Pete Clegg

    Email: Dave Adgar
    Email: Dave Adgar
    Email: Dave Adgar
     

  • Laura Emmins

    Volunteering Officer - Norfolk and Suffolk

    Email: Laura Emmins

  • Karen Fishwick

    Volunteering Officer - Northants, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridge & Hertforshire

    Email: Karen Fishwick

  • Patrick Joel

    Volunteering Officer - Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire

    Email: Patrick Joel

  • Ed McGregor

    Volunteering Officer - Berkshire, Hampshire, Bristol, Oxforshire & Wiltshire

    Email: Ed McGregor

  • Robert Milton

    Volunteering Officer - Cheshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Rutland and Shropshire

    Email: Robert Milton 

  • Megan Mitchell

    Volunteering Officer - Kent, Surrey, Sussex

    Email: Megan Mitchell

  • Helen Booker

    Volunteering Officer - Cornwall, Devon, Somerset & Dorset

    Email: Helen Booker