Working together for wildlife
Ulster Wildlife is a registered charity set up by volunteers and supporters to help champion native wildlife in Northern Ireland. We believe that, by working together, people can change the natural world for the better.
We are governed by a Board of Trustees, a group of volunteers who direct, guide and support all aspects of our work. Ultimately, they have financial and legal responsibility for everything we do.
The Trustees appoint the CEO who leads the staff towards achieving our vision and strategy. We are supported by around 100 volunteers and 40 members of staff who carry out our day to day work looking after Northern Ireland’s wildlife and wild places and bringing people closer to nature.
Although we are an independent charity, we are one of 46 Wildlife Trusts working together across the UK with a shared vision of people close to nature, with land and seas rich in wildlife.
Meet our Trustees
Our 12 Trustees bring a wide range of professional skills, experience and expertise to the charity in areas including finance, conservation, human resources, farming and business management.
Ken Brundle (Chair)
Ken has over 40 years experience in the Aerospace industry and is currently Chairman of Bombardier Aerospace Shorts. From 1996 - 2000, Ken was Head of Shorts and more recently he was based in Montreal from 2000 - 2004 responsible for all operations at Canadair, de Haviland, Learjet and Shorts. He was founder Chairman of the Northern Ireland 'One Percent Club' and has been actively involved in business support for Northern Ireland charities. He also served previously as both Chairman of Maydown Precision Engineering and Belfast City Airport. Ken is currently Chairman of Praxis, the Northern Ireland Mental Health and Learning Disability Charity and a Trustee of the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children. Ken is Chairman of the Bombardier Aerospace Shorts Foundation and Chairman of the Bombardier Aerospace and Transportation Pension Schemes in the U.K. He is the Canadian Honorary Consul in Northern Ireland.
Stephen Aston (Vice Chair)
Stephen joined the Northern Ireland Civil Service as a senior advisor on environmental matters after completing a commission as a pilot in the Royal Navy and having worked for a number of local authorities as an Environmental Health specialist. He was appointed to establish and lead Land & Resource Management in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and was subsequently elected as the national president of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management. He was also nominated as a trustee of CLAIRE - Contaminated Land in Real Environments. He acted as an independent auditor on the DVLA Audit Committee from 2009 – 2015 and was the Director of Strategy & Innovation for the NIEA from 2011- 2015, where he led the review and reform of Regional Operations and produced Northern Ireland’s first State of the Environment report. He is now a Director on the Board of Northern Ireland Environment Link.
David Hendron (Treasurer)
David is a CIMA member and has worked in finance for over 38 years. He was initially in the shipbuilding sector moving to aerospace in 1988. His last role was leading the finance team in Bombardier Aerospace and Engineering Services which has sites in Montreal, Belfast , Mexico and Morocco. He has served previously on a number of boards most recently Short Brothers plc.
Joe Furphy (Honorary President)
Joe Furphy was the first local person to work in nature conservation in Northern Ireland in 1965, and spent 32 years in what is now NIEA. Since retirement, he has been involved in several voluntary organisations and was awarded both an OBE and the Christopher Cadbury medal for his efforts. He is a founder member of Ulster Wildlife and past chairman. He also served on the Council of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts for four years. For relaxation, he participates in choral singing, plays the organ, bird watches and is keen on Irish railway history. Joe was appointed Ulster Wildlife’s first president at the 2015 AGM.
Seamus McKee is a journalist and broadcaster. He has presented programmes on radio and television across a number of areas including current affairs, the arts, education and religion. He's possibly best known for having presented Good Morning Ulster and, more recently, Evening Extra on BBC Radio Ulster. He has also hosted Spotlight and Hearts and Minds on television as well as providing commentary on major events such as the televised commemorations of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, both in 2016. He has interviewed leading politicians and public figures over many years and has covered the twists and turns of our recent history, including the tragedies that have marked so many years of conflict. He has twice won the IMRO Irish Radio Award for News Broadcaster of the Year.
Fiona has 27 years’ experience as an HR practitioner in Bombardier Aerostructures and Engineering Services (Short Bros plc) where she is Manager of Human Resources Business Partners and Equal Opportunities. She has extensive experience in a large multi-unionised aerospace manufacturer and has faced the varying challenges of the business cycle from a significant upturn to significant downsizing. She leads a team of HR Professionals who advise management on the full range of HR activities, and design and implement HR processes that support strategic business aims.
Kate Thompson has been Director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Northern Ireland for almost ten years. A Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holder, she has strategically developed the DofE in Northern Ireland to be more inclusive through the Joint Award Initiative with Gaisce – The President’s Award and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Kate has considerable high-level leadership and senior management experience in the Not-for-Profit, public, voluntary and private sectors. She has extensive experience in business development, relationship management, stakeholder engagement, managing and developing teams of staff, communications, media, marketing, event management and fundraising.
She is a former private sector Board Director responsible for managing strategic relations with Veolia Water UK, Thames Water, M&S, Phoenix Gas, Calor Gas, Toyota, BMW and other blue-chip companies.
In her spare time, Kate is a very keen photographer achieving her Licentiate with both the Royal Photographic Society and the Irish Photographic Federation. She enjoys travelling, canoeing and hill walking.
Edward has nearly 20 years’ experience working professionally as an environmentalist, currently within the agri-food sector. Previous to this he was an environmental consultant to both the public and private sector and was Sustainability Director of Business in the Community/ARENA Network. He has a particular interest in supporting business to ensure it makes a positive contribution to protecting and enhancing our natural environment.
Both John’s professional and private lives revolve around his love of the countryside. John was 'born to farm' on a traditional mixed family farm although, with the onset of intensification it was converted to a dairy farm and later extensified to an organic deer farm. He graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Land Economy before studying Advanced Farm Management at the RAU Cirencester. He also has an MBA in Real Estate from Reading University. His career in farming and rural estate management in Northern Ireland spans over forty years, managing and advising farms and estates with a combined area of over ten thousand acres. He has a great interest in conservation and is a former Chairman of The Conservation Volunteers and President of the Ulster Beekeepers Association. He was a member of the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Group for six years, followed by the Council of Conservation and the Countryside for three years. John has been a member of the Board of Governors of Kilcooley School since 1982 and is currently Chairman. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for Co Down, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies.
Bob is a marine biologist with an interest in birds, as well as many other aspects of wildlife, and has been involved with research and wildlife conservation for nearly 50 years. He has worked with the National Trust on Strangford Lough, and as Director of RSPB's Northern Ireland operations. He previously chaired the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Group (NIBG) and was a member of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside from 2000 to 2009. For six years he was a member of the Northern Ireland Committee of Heritage Lottery Fund. Bob was also a member of the Biodiversity Working Group of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Council on behalf of CNCC. From 2009 – 17 he was an independent member of the UK's Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and chaired their Marine Protected Areas sub-group for most of that time, notably during a period of intense MPA designation work in the UK. Bob has previously served terms on Ulster Wildlife’s Council and is currently a co-opted member of its Environment Committee. When not working on conservation issues at home, Bob gives lectures and wildlife excursions from expedition ships in the Arctic and Antarctic. In 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to nature conservation.
David retired as Head of the NI Civil Service in 2020, a post he held since 2017. Prior to this he was Permanent Secretary, Department of Finance (2014 – 2017). David was Permanent Secretary in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) (2009 – 2014) where he was responsible for policy on economic and business development, tourism, telecommunications, energy, business regulation, geological survey, trading standards and the Insolvency Service. Previously David was responsible for strategy and policy on economic and business development, tourism, telecommunications and energy at DETI and also worked at the Department of Regional Development (DRD) and in the Central Finance Group of the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) where he was part of a team responsible for the oversight and approval of expenditure of the Northern Ireland departments during the first period of devolution.
David was educated at RBAI and Ulster University and his interests are golf, cycling, walking and the environment. He is a member of Ulster Wildlife, the National Trust and RSPB. David was awarded a Knighthood in the 2020 Birthday Honours.
Stevie studied his BSC Leisure & Event Management in Coleraine which included a year studying Business Tourism Management in Kempten, Germany. Following which he has worked extensively in events & travel including for the Cultural Exchange Program Camp America as well as at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Since then Stevie has completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law & Transitional Justice and spends a lot of his time working with local community & environmental campaigns. Most recently, he has been a key driver on bringing the International Build Peace Conference to Belfast in 2018 and facilitates the Environmental Subcommittee at the Northern Ireland Youth Forum. Stevie previously served on the board of Project Zambia, including one year as chair, and traveled three times to Zambia where he worked alongside local communities on sustainable development projects.
Anna has worked at the Rainbow Rehoming Shelter for the past two years while also volunteering with Cats Protection, North West Red Squirrel Group and is an active member with Zero Waste North West. She has travelled extensively throughout central and south America volunteering and learning about permaculture, rewilding and conservation, working with a range of organisations including the Organisation of the Conservation of Cetaceans, Uruguay. Anna holds a BSc in Podiatric Medicine from Glasgow Caledonian University, she was selected to represent the department at a conference in Helsinki and during her studies she was awarded the Magnus Magnusson award where she travelled to Peru to work at the Amazon Shelter, rehabilitating Howler monkeys, sloths and various other animals including many species of birds. She is passionate about conservation, connecting people, particularly the youth to nature and promoting a healthy life for all on the planet.
Helen was formally Assistant Director (Fundraising) in the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s University Belfast where she led a team to secure philanthropic income to support University priorities. With a background in marketing and communications, Helen has considerable experience of working in the not for profit sector, and was previously Marketing Manager for Laganside Corporation, responsible for the regeneration of the riverside area of Belfast.
Stephen Smith is Managing Director of Lighthouse Communications. With over 25 years’ media and marketing/PR experience, he leads one of Northern Ireland’s leading communications consultancies, advising directors and boards of blue-chip, SME and third sector clients. Stephen has recently completed a Certificate and Diploma in Company Direction with the Institute of Directors.
How to become a trustee
Any member of UIster Wildlife may apply to become a Trustee, provided they are eligible to stand for election under both company and charity law. No fixed qualifications are needed, but a wide range of skills and experience are required in order for our Board of Trustees to be effective. Trustees are elected at our Annual General Meeting, held each autumn.
Meet our Chief Executive
Jennifer took up the post of Chief Executive Officer at Ulster Wildlife in Spring 2012. Jennifer has an extensive and relevant background. Having begun her career in the Department of Agriculture on the delivery of agri-environment schemes and associated training programmes, she worked as a consultant on EU interstate projects. Subsequently, she managed a range of voluntary bodies and recently consulted on aspects of the reform of local government for three district councils.