Meet the team

We have a small but mighty team of part-time staff and freelancers who manage the Dell at Tortworth Arboretum, ensure the Tortworth Forest Centre CIC is run smoothly and deliver our community events, volunteer days and wellbeing projects.

Amy Walsh, Managing Director

Amy is experienced in strategic and operational project management in the environment and community sectors. As a qualified Forest School Leader with a background in environmental education and play work, she is on a mission to enable people from all backgrounds to discover the magic in nature.

Amy loves being creative, experimenting with new ideas and collaborations, and being outdoors creating restorative spaces where communities can improve their wellbeing, whilst nurturing skills and values to grow a more socially and environmentally-conscious society. When she’s not in the woods, you’ll usually find her swimming in a lake, stomping up a hill or in the garden with her rescue hens.

Jake Stow, Collection Manager

Jake has been involved in the project for a number of years, helping run the management days, leading our recent mapping project and working with volunteers to rediscover the arboretum’s lost secrets.

Our resident tree enthusiast, Jake is always ready for a conversation about leaves, bark or bud shapes and is enthusiastic to pass on his knowledge and introduce others to our exciting tree collection. His work over the last few years has transformed our understanding of what we have on site.

He loves being outdoors and believes everyone should have the opportunity to work amongst the trees in this unique and beautiful woodland.

Rhea Warner, Woodland Wellbeing Programme Manager

Rhea’s career has been centred around working with people who struggle with their mental health including supporting people to make changes to their drug and alcohol use and supporting young people in finding their place and building their resilience. One thread that has existed for 20 years is a passion for working with groups in a natural environment, being continually amazed at witnessing the power of nature to heal and help people tolerate distress.  

The opportunity to join the Tortworth team as the Woodland Wellbeing Manager and combine Rhea’s passions for working with groups and to enable and empower people who wouldn’t usually access nature for wellbeing to venture into the countryside, is a dream come true.

Amy Stone, Impact Manager

Amy is passionate about getting people outside and firmly believes in the value – to people, communities and wildlife – of connecting with nature. She has a background in planning, delivering and evaluating outdoor engagement projects – ranging from formal outdoor education to informal family learning; from conservation volunteering to therapeutic gardening and community food-growing – always sharing her passion for the natural world with those around her.   Until joining the team at Tortworth in 2020 much of her work was on wetland nature reserves and in urban parks and gardens.  Having fulfilled various roles within the organisation, she now happily combines her love of trees with her love of spreadsheets by leading on evaluating the impact of our work.

Katy Radel, Event & Venue Manager

Katy has spent over a decade organising corporate conferences, award ceremonies, celebrations and weddings. She loves to plan and thoroughly enjoys watching an idea come to life, especially taking any opportunity to add a little sparkle.

In her spare time Katy enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, regardless of the weather. The first time she visited Tortworth it was torrentially raining, yet she and her family were there for hours enjoying exploring the trails and trees.

Having spent far too many days at a desk wistfully wishing she was outside she is ecstatic to have an opportunity to be part of a team actively encouraging time in nature appreciating the great outdoors.

Gary Davis, Maintenance Officer

Our Maintenance Officer first visited the arboretum 25 years ago when he attended an event at the old nursery and decided to explore.  He was pleased to return in 2015 after he saw an ad for volunteers at the Forest Centre.  

Gary taught mechanics and engineering to young people for a long time, but is happier in the woods. After he left teaching he discovered that volunteering at Tortworth was ‘knackering but restful’ at the same time, and it made him feel good. Over the past 5 years he has become an invaluable part of the Tortworth team.

Gary is a restorer and recycler.  When he’s not clearing paths or chainsawing a fallen tree, he’ll be tinkering with old tools or repurposing materials.  He also drives our minibus from Bristol.

Kelly Eldridge, Bushcraft Lead

With a background in Countryside Management and Environmental Education, Kelly has many years experience working in the outdoors, she is at her happiest out enjoying the countryside often accompanied by her faithful companion Basil the dog.

Besides her passion for the natural environment Kelly also has a love of history and crafts, heritage and country crafts in particular. She has spent many years studying Countryside Management, History and Experimental Archaeology and truly believes that learning more about our past and how our ancestors and forebears lived helps us to gain a better understanding of the natural world and how we connect and move within it. ‘Historically people were much more in tune with nature and the seasons, understanding the past is a great way to try and better understand how to preserve and enhance our environment in the future.’

This love of learning also extends to learning new skills and crafts, Kelly is always interested In trying out new things and spends much of her spare time on courses and workshops trying to acquire new skills, when she is not doing this you will often find her in her pottery workshop elbows deep in clay.

Clare Lowden, Forest School Assistant – Hawthorn Project

Clare studied in Arts and for the last 7 years has worked in hands-on creative roles. She is a strong believer in the benefits of nature and creativity, and the role they play in promoting positive mental health.

With a keen interest in wellbeing, Clare has experience in Art Therapy and Eco-Therapy, and combined with her love for the outdoors, this has led her to complete her Level 3 Forest School training. 

From leatherwork to printmaking to pottery, Clare loves to share and explore new processes in the outdoors. An ardent walker, cyclist, and outdoor swimmer, she is an advocate of spending time in nature whatever the weather!


Our team of Directors help guide and develop the organisation as we grow.

Mark Goodman, Chair of Board

A graduate in Rural Resource Management, Mark spends his professional life as a consultant, supporting not for profit organisations and local authorities in a range of services, including governance, business planning, funding and community engagement.  Enthusiastic and inventive, Mark has developed a number of digital community development tools and is always keen to test himself in challenging and complex projects.

As well as helping others set up Charities and not-for-profit organisations, he has been a founder and Director of a number of others over the last 22 years.

Mark is a Level 2 Football Coach and holds a UKA Leadership in Running Fitness Coaching Licence.  He gets out hill running whenever he can!

Bec Briar, Founder & Director

Some time in June 2014, Bec was offered a unique opportunity – to take on the restoration of an old abandoned arboretum near her home. Not sure of the difference between an ash and an elm, she decided to take a leap, took on the lease and started talking to as many experts in woods and trees as possible. A few months later and the Tortworth Forest Centre was born. 

Experiencing the many benefits of nature and woodlands for her own mental health, Bec now runs courses and events to enable others to support this process for other people. She is a Forest School Leader, ethnobotanist, woodland manager and smallholder with a deep respect for the power of nature to support mental health for everyone. Check out Honeywoods Events to join one of her very popular courses.

Dorian Zanker

Dorian has worked in wide range of businesses – from our local water company to an overseas environmental engineering business to running a number of large regional financial services businesses.

With sustainability never far from his heart, Dorian has been involved in programmes with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Forum for the Future. He now spends a reasonable amount of his time either helping start-up businesses, tree planting, as an assistant football coach and a school governor.

Hobbies include geocaching (a great way to discover and walk), recording the stone stiles of Gloucestershire, Pilates and far too much time at the gym.

Emily Hazell

Emily is passionate about connecting people to trees and the natural environment. Having trained at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, graduating with Honours in the Diploma in Horticulture in 2022, Emily now works as a Botanical Horticulturist caring for the Living Collection of Temperate Plants.

Prior to Kew, she worked as a Horticultural Training officer at a small city farm, training vulnerable adults in the cultivation of vegetables and ornamentals.

Kathryn Neri

Kathryn has experience across AI, Technology and the Energy markets with a focus on streamlining operations; automation, and building effective commercial propositions. She is skilled in putting structure around start-ups and scale ups.

Volunteering across food banks, animal shelters and with entrepreneurs in Uganda, Kathryn strongly believes that change can happen with a simple act of kindness.

Her first experience within conservation was working alongside with the Welsh government ’10 Millions trees’ initiative, sparking a passion to consciously improve the world around us.

Kathryn enjoys time in the wilderness with a keen interest in hiking, rock climbing and scuba diving. She is a huge animal lover, and can often be found bribing the nearest dog for a cuddle!

Rosie Backhouse

Rosie has a background in Social Anthropology and Social Work and has devoted her career to working in the Charity Sector; forging community focussed projects for people struggling with poor mental or physical health. She has many years experience managing Safeguarding, Risk and working with people who have complex needs. In 2015 Rosie trained as an outdoor educator in order to bring her work in Social Care and love of the natural world together. She went on to develop various projects that connected young people to the arts and nature in order to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Rosie currently works as a freelance reflective practice facilitator in the charity sector and is passionate about supporting organisations and teams to thrive in response to the increasing pressures they face.

Rosie is the lucky steward of a small piece of woodland in Somerset which she and her family planted when she was a child and where she regularly takes time away from the busyness of modern life to slow down and reconnect. She has grown up with a deep appreciation for what time in nature can do for people’s wellbeing and belonging and is a keen advocate for more of these opportunities for communities that face challenges accessing nature.

Andy Bryce

Being amongst trees and woodlands is Andy’s happy place and he has been fortunate enough to make a career out of it; as an Arboriculturist his professional background has grown from his early days as an Arborist through to managing arguably one of the finest tree collections in the world at Westonbirt. Nowadays he is usually found somewhere in the South West looking at trees and holes in the ground…and holes in trees.

Andy is passionate how trees can improve our lives and about a tree’d landscape for future generations; particularly with setting out of botanic gardens and arboreta, using this opportunity to make beautiful places to visit and reconnect.

Understanding that trees form just one piece of the environmental mosaic, Andy loves to see nature and ourselves thrive when we create safe spaces.