Heal Somerset Team
Acting CEO & Chair of Trustees
Jan knows the exact moment she became a wildlife campaigner, one morning in June 2014 when she intervened to stop dozens of swifts being killed during the demolition of their nesting site. She can trace a love of them back to childhood, along with countless other species, particularly frogs, newts, skylarks and woodlice. A tawny owl made out of an old sock was one of her finest achievements as a Brownie.
Her first degree was in Geography and she joined a corporate communications firm straight out of university and has spent most of her business career in technology marketing communications. In 2012 she graduated with a first in Psychology and trained as a specialist in resilience. She still serves on the boards of two businesses she helped to found.
Her work with wildlife has been local and very practical. She founded a swift group which has the world record for the most swift boxes installed in under a year; she was a co-founder of Wild Maidenhead and leads the group's Wild About Gardens scheme; and she project managed the largest installation of amphibian rescue ladders in England. Nature is what makes her heart sing, she says.
Hannah is a first-class University of Birmingham (BSc) and first-class Imperial College (MRes) biosciences graduate with over three years’ experience in nature restoration, a years’ experience in the private sector (PR/comms) and two years’ experience in postgraduate scientific research.
In her previous role at the Wildlife Trusts, Hannah was responsible for nature reserves management, including livestock welfare and vegetation control. She developed a range of practical skills and obtained relevant professional qualifications i.e. chainsaw licence. During this time, Hannah was also involved in strategic local nature recovery work through the trust’s planning and policy teams, and represented the trust at public events as a youth ambassador.
In her role at Natural England – the Government's statutory advisor for the natural environment – as a warden on designated sites, Hannah developed in-depth knowledge of wildlife legislation and worked with local landowners and the public to safeguard protected species.
Before joining Heal, Hannah worked in river catchment management to deliver a range of practical river improvement projects and coordinated landowners to deliver catchment-scale partnership environmental monitoring and habitat management projects. In 2019, Hannah also established a vibrant local wildlife volunteer group, Wild About Datchet, to help her local community connect with nature.
Hannah's interest in rewilding stemmed from her passion for animal welfare - she felt that the most effective way she could help animals was to create more places where wildlife could live safely. She believes that rewilding is the most sustainable way to heal our ecosystems and mitigate climate change. She cares deeply about equality, diversity and inclusion and is committed to making Heal's rewilding spaces accessible and welcoming to everyone.
Sarah is a career fundraiser, having spent over twenty years raising millions of pounds for charities. Her previous roles include Deputy Director of Fundraising at The Prince’s Trust and Head of Global Development for Teach First & Teach For All. During her consultancy career her clients included decorated educational leaders and award-winning journalists. Heal combines Sarah’s growing passion for nature with her dedication to people from under-served communities.
Sarah grew up in South London between two commons where she would often go as a teenager, to contemplate life, taking solace from the natural world. She was privileged to have grandparents whom she visited in Kent, both with gardens that they tended lovingly. It was visits to her Aunt in Somerset, however, from the age of 14 that left an indelible mark. And once a mother of two, she found returning to the capital after such visits progressively harder.
It was following a brave and impulsive escape from the city in a snowstorm, and the sighting of two roe deer across a snowy field, that she knew it was time to move to the countryside. Six years later, Sarah has received endless support and healing from nature.
Head of Fundraising
Rewilding Communications Trainee
Ruby is an English Literature graduate from the University of Bristol. With experience running social media accounts and a love for storytelling, she hopes to use her skills to spread the word about Heal and its rewilding mission.
Despite her literary background, Ruby has first-hand experience of wildlife conservation. This experience comes from a summer spent working as a field surveyor conducting bat surveys and volunteering at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. These experiences cemented her desire to pursue a career where she could help protect the environment, a dream which has come true with her obtaining the position of Rewilding Communications Trainee at Heal as part of the New to Nature programme hosted by Groundwork UK and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Ruby is incredibly excited to be a part of the Heal team. As a lover of all things nature, she recognises the need to safeguard its future and believes the best way to do this is by rewilding land.
After graduating from Lancaster University with a degree in French Studies, Caddy worked for a specialist French property company in London which handled the sales of prestigious properties throughout France. It was working closely with wealthy clients in this role that led her to become a Personal Assistant.
Caddy has dedicated the last 15 years of her career as a Private PA to helping the over-stretched and time-poor to feel organised and to regain a sense of order and balance in their lives. She has worked with a wide range of clients, particularly those of high net worth, in London and the surrounding areas.
In spite of having lived in the capital for over a decade, Caddy has always been a country girl at heart and feels very fortunate to have grown up in a nature-loving family in rural Hampshire, surrounded by rolling countryside…and a menagerie of pets!
Conscious of the climate crisis and the threats to the natural world, Caddy recently decided to change the course of her career path to work for an environmental organisation, in more rural surroundings. So she was delighted then to be invited to join the team at Heal Somerset and is already feeling a great sense of job satisfaction from being able to offer her support to such a worthy cause.
As a nature enthusiast and plantswoman, she sees working at Heal as an opportunity to widen her knowledge and do her bit to make a difference in a way that she has not been able to do before now. She is already enjoying a better work-life balance and is looking forward to embracing this new chapter, in muddy wellingtons!
Trainee Rewilding Ranger
Having graduated from the University of Bath with a Mathematical Sciences degree, Dan took a slightly different career path to some of his fellow alumni. After the stresses of Uni, Dan decided to take a more relaxed year post-studies which gave him time to reflect on his passions and future aspirations. During this time, he took on a full-time practical volunteering role with the RSPB away from home and rediscovered his enthusiasm for wildlife and its needs for protection. A whole year of learning, training, and engagement gave Dan a solid platform to begin his conservation career.
Having grown up on an organic small holding with environmentally conscious parents, he had plenty of experiences which immersed him in the natural world and made him aware of the climate crisis we face. A particular passion for birdlife shone through. In his post-Uni years, he often found himself out on walks or bike rides pointing out the songs of woodland birds to his friends, explaining why we should protect these animals and the habitats they live in. Naturally, the ideas of rewilding and converting less-than-ideal land into biodiverse ecosystems crept into conversations.
He feels incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to join the Heal team at such a young stage in its rewilding life:
“It’s not often you get such a blank canvas to work from. Usually, you step into an organisation that has everything in place and you just continue the work instead of being able to do everything from the ground up. The potential is incredible!”
Community Engagement Manager
It was while volunteering at Marwell Wildlife that Julia discovered her passion for connecting people with the wild. At 16, she spent her Sundays in the zoo’s artefact hut, showing off large turtle shells and getting people to feel the weight of antlers. It was the spark she saw in people’s eyes – a spark of discovery, understanding and awe – that made her fall in love with the work.
To grow her baseline of understanding, Julia studied Biological Sciences at Oxford University. Spending as little time as possible in the lab, Julia did her dissertation on a duck farm, tutored science to teens and presented science shows at the local pub. After university, Julia spent time teaching science in India, leading environmental trips in London, collecting carbon sequestration data in Honduras, nature guiding in Panama and generally setting up community eco-projects wherever she went.
After a number of years, Julia felt compelled to bring all that she had learnt back home. She had seen the wonderful impact nature and wildlife has on people, but also discovered the numerous barriers people face to the outdoors. Back in England, she spent three and a half years working in community engagement for the National Trust in Dorset. Highlights include being part of the Planet Purbeck youth and community group, co-creating a vision for all children in Purbeck to access the landscape, scoping and developing the South-East Dorset Children & Young People Hub, leading on all crazy engagement activities at Studland, and playing her part in improving inclusivity and diversity in the sector.
Julia’s passion for rewilding, access to nature and connected communities makes her a perfect fit for Heal. Julia works part time for Heal Rewilding and spends her other days working as an outdoor therapeutic mentor for children and teenagers, as well as leading nature experiences that entwine science, exploration and mindfulness.
Learning and Sharing Manager
Katie has over 15 years of experience of working as an events professional within the charity sector.
In her previous role at national domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, Katie developed and delivered an incredibly wide range of expert events from conferences and seminars to gala dinners, awards ceremonies, fundraising challenges and even celebrity football matches. Katie believes that events are key when it comes to changing hearts and minds. She produces accessible and engaging events with strong and consistent messaging with a focus on a diverse range of expert speakers and audiences.
Katie is a strong advocate of protecting and nourishing our natural spaces and strongly believes in the vitality of thriving natural environments for the health of our planet and of our communities. She is excited to be joining Heal and is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to an organisation that not only educates about and promotes the importance of wildlife habitats, but also takes action by creating and caring for new ones.