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Trustees’ duties

The duties of the Trustees are broadly governed by the Charity Commission which publishes on this subject [See Here]. Within those guidelines the specifics can be determined by the Trustees as a body, based on the Trust Deed. But see also, above "The nature of a Charitable Trust".

The Trust has two Holding Trustees; their role is discussed below. 

The duties of the Chairman, the Treasurer and the Secretary are typical of any small charity. 

Past and present Trustees

  • The Earl of Cranbrook (07/1992–06/1993)
  • James Hancock OBE† (07/1992–06/1997)
  • Richard P. Howard† (07/1992–06/2001, 07/2006–06/2011)
  • Thomas J. Roberts† (07/1992–06/1997)
  • Michael Gore CBE, CVO (07/1993–06/2003)
  • Ian King-Holford (07/1993–06/1998)
  • Clive F. Mann FLS† (07/1998–06/2008, 07/2009–06/2019, 07/2020–08/2022) 
  • Steven Rumsey (07/2000–06/2009)
  • Sir Anthony Galsworthy KCMG (07/2000–06/2009)
  • Edward C. Dickinson (07/2003–06/2013, 07/2018–) C
  • David R. Wells (07/2007–06/2017, 07/2019–) C
  • Revd. Thomas W. Gladwin (07/2007–06/2016)
  • Steven M.S. Gregory (07/2008–06/2018, 07/2020–) C
  • Richard Klim† (07/2010–06/2011)
  • Philip McGowan (07/2011–06/2014)
  • Guy Kirwan (07/2011–06/2018)
  • Hein van Grouw (07/2011–06/2020) 
  • Graham Higley (07/2013–)06/2022) 
  • Desmond Allen (07/2017–06/2019)
  • Mike Earp (07/2018–06/2021)
  • Alexandre Aleixo, PhD (07/2020–) C
  • Chris Storey (07/2020–) C
  • Robert McGowan (07/2021–) C
  • Paul van Els (08/2022–) C

The bold capital C indicates current (2022-2023) status as a Trustee.

Becoming a Trustee

A majority of the Trustees must be UK residents, but having some overseas Trustees is desirable and some recruitment from other countries is intended. Anyone who is interested in helping to manage the charity, in the role of a Trustee, is most welcome to contact us. Most candidates should expect to be asked to become somewhat involved with a Trust project and not just participate in board meetings. This is desirable so that the work of the charity is well understood; however, such involvement is not a requirement. 

Following an informal consultation by the Trustees the Chairman or another Trustee, perhaps living close enough to the candidate for a face to face meeting, will issue an invitation to meet and then discuss the role and sound out the candidate. Once it is agreed to proceed the existing Trustees will propose the candidate for election or, if joining in mid-year (the Trust’s operating year is from 1 July to 30 June), for co-option. Some experience of the business world, especially in management roles, is desirable. 

Trustees are elected for a five-year term and may thereafter stand for immediate re-election. After ten years they must if willing to continue, stand down for one year. During that year their views may be sought by the board but they have no vote. After that year they can be proposed for re-election and may even complete a second or even third ten-year stint.

The smooth operation of Trust, judged by the past 25 years, requires four to eight Trustees but up to ten have been on board at one time. All board meetings now make use of video-conferencing which may, due to time zones, limit participation from some overseas countries and thus trustee recruitment.

Holding Trustees and their roles and responsibilities

Holding Trustees are appointed from current Trustees, or from outside that group, and they can serve indefinitely in this role. Their role is to sign legal documents at the request of the Trustees (and only at their request) which allows these documents to rarely need novation. Documents signed by Trustees, when all must sign, are problematic for documents signed for the long term in that any change in the board’s composition requires an immediate act (novation) wherein all the board, as reconstituted, need to sign a replacement document with identical text. Holding Trustees are not required to attend meetings but they receive the minutes thereof; they also hold copies of signed legal documents - the originals are held by the Trust’s solicitors (Shearman Sterling, London). The current Holding Trustees are Edward Dickinson and Steven Gregory.

The Trust’s accounts are filed with the Charity Commission.

Memories of former Trustees

James Hancock OBE: by his friend and co-author James Kushlan (May, 2021)

"James A. Hancock was a man of many talents and interests and, to many, one of those unforgettable characters one runs into occasionally. Born in 1921, he got his initial overseas experience in World War II, rising to colonel in the Indian army thereby gaining a life-long appreciation for India including a working knowledge of Urdu, which served him well when later he guided birders and others through the subcontinent. His tales were many, such as keeping a chicken in his saddlebags for his morning egg. His second career was in the oil additive business in which he rose to company president of a subsidiary of the Ethyl Corporation. As such he travelled widely to factories and to meet clients, and began to set aside time on these business trips to watch birds. Backed by his wife Sylvia, he engaged socially and professionally with the prominent ornithologists of his day, but also built relationships with upcoming younger folk whom he mentored. These engagements led, in his official retirement, to his third career as a nature photographer and writer. He became infatuated with water birds, especially herons; and as a bona-fide old-time naturalist, he set out to write about them, including co-authoring three monographs on herons and another on ibises and storks. Two of these were folio volumes including original artwork that stands up to comparisons with the cherished monographs of the past. Photographic books followed. Meanwhile, he served as a reforming president of the British Trust for Ornithology and on the RSPB and ICBP councils. He cherished recognitions received for this part of his life’s story: he was elected a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society; received the BTO’s Jubilee Medal; and was awarded the OBE for services to ornithology. As a quite serious, but un-degreed amateur naturalist, he cherished above all his honorary doctorate from the University of Southampton. After a life lived more than full, he passed away in 2004. Few professional ornithologists make an impact such as his on a taxon specialty. His was a breed of naturalist now almost extinct, and his like will rarely be seen again." 

Tom Roberts, PhD: by Edward Dickinson (September, 2022)

Tom Roberts (1924-2013) spent over 30 years in Pakistan where his father had a cotton mill. He travelled out to join his father just after World War II and was there when partition form India arrived with all its initial difficulties. He soon began to absorb all that he could about the local natural history; but to help with his future management of the family business he went to university in Canada to study agricultural economics there meeting Frances his wife to be. They took up residence in Pakistan in 1952 and Tom used all the time he could spare travelling widely and using his artistic skills to record both natural history and the colourful peoples of the country.  In 1977 he published his first book on the mammals of Pakistan. He took over form his father as Managing Director of the family cotton business which necessarily evolved into a partnership and retired to Wales, land of his birth, in 1984 leaving the running of the business to his Pakistani partners. Back in the UK and settled in Anglesey he used his knowledge to promote conservation helping the ICBP (later BirdLife) and his painting and writing skills to publish his exceptionally authoritative two-volume work on the birds of Pakistan in 1991-92. The following year he achieved a doctorate from Queen’s College, Cambridge. He was also honoured the Government of Pakistan, the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. This paragraph is based on the obituary by Carol Inskipp published by the Oriental Bird Club.

Tom was a founding Trustee of the Trust for Oriental Ornithology formed in 1992 with the help of Oxford University Press to facilitate a proposed Handbook on the Birds of Asia that, despite the collaboration of the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden agreed in 1992, did not go forward because the Trustees could not accept the risks associated with  the terms relative to fund-raising offered by OUP at a 1993 meeting hosted by James and Sylvia Hancock at their Sparsholt home.

Richard Howard: by Dave Coles (October, 2022) 

I first heard Richard’s name while working as a volunteer at a wildlife reserve in Papua New Guinea during the mid 1970’s when we heard of a proposed new organisation, the World Pheasant Association. Returning to the UK I took up a position with a private collection in Berkshire. While out photographing rare wild plants, my other passion, I often passed the Childe Beale Trust (CBT) on my way to the many reserves in Oxfordshire, but for some reason I never ventured in.

I first met Richard in 1987 when Peter Lowe, then the Curator at CBT offered me a job. Arriving for the interview I was taken to meet Richard who was just about to go inside. After introductions we had a 20-minute conversation outside after which we went inside, had a drink and continued to chat about birds and travel. I remember getting the impression that the inside chat was a formality and that the interview had taken place outside – much later I asked about that and he agreed saying “I only do formalities when required”.

That summed up Richard. He preferred a more relaxed approach and we would often chew the cud on birds, conservation and places we had been. The great thing about these chats was that both he and I had travelled and as we exchanged our experiences, I would pick his brains on places to visit, and he was always happy to help, and on several occasions gave me introductions to some of his contacts in far flung places.

In our relationship as boss and new employee we both found our feet and we would always discuss planned projects but generally soon wandered off topic towards our shared interests. I was appointed Curator when the position became vacant and we continued to work closely developing the Trust’s collection with a special emphasis on his beloved Galliformes of which, over the years, we managed to parent rear around 30 species.

Richard was a keen bird-watcher and would always undertake a New Year’s Day species count and either search me out if I was working or tell me about it the next time he saw me. He was also very supportive of things that I wanted to get going at the park, in particular researching non-avian species found wild at the park, and he welcomed various specialist groups studying bats and moths.

One of the most endearing aspects of Richard was that he liked to show off the Trust to people and frequently suggested we invite friends down (“word of mouth is best publicity”) and staff were allowed free use of the park after hours if they wished. My family made good use of this perk and he would occasionally join us for a brief chat. He was usually there busy sailing model boats.

One memory which, although I found embarrassing, he found amusing. I had compiled an index to the Avicultural Magazine and had used the Howard and Moore checklist as it was the only one that went to subspecies level. It was only some time later that I realised my boss was one of the authors!

The passing of Richard left a void at the Trust and, although he was my boss, we developed a close friendship with our shared interests – evening visits to the park then had something missing.

Clive Mann, Ph.D., F.L.S. Based on a number of obituaries (compilation by Edward Dickinson (November, 2022) 

Clive died in August 2022 aged 80. He was a biology teacher much appreciated by his students and he used jobs overseas as perfect opportunities to study birds in Africa and Asia and travelled to other continents.

He attended Colchester Royal grammar school and joined the Colchester Natural History Society where he learned to ring birds and embarked on a series of bird-watching adventures with like-minded friends, mostly by bicycle.

Armed with a degree in zoology and anthropology from University College London, in 1964 he travelled to Uganda, where he obtained a diploma in education from Makerere University, Kampala. After teaching at Soroti Senior secondary school, he returned to London in 1968, working as a secondary school teacher in Stamford Hill and Tottenham, but he was soon back to Africa taking up a teaching post in Kenya at Kabarnet boys’ school the next year. Later he spent 10 years in Brunei leading to his Annotated Checklist of the birds of Borneo (2008). Back in London he collaborated with Bob Cheke to produce two editions of Sunbird: a guide to sunbirds, flowerpeckers and sugarbirds of the world (first published in 2001) and the two of them provided the sections on sunbirds and flowerpeckers to the Handbook of birds of the world, vol. 13 in 2008. He also worked with Erritzoe on Cuckoos of the world (2012) and in the last two years of his life worked on the revision of the African non-passerines for the Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of Birds of the World.

He was a long-time member of the British Ornithologists’ Club and was Chairman from 2001 to 2004. He was also closely involved with TOO/TAS for over 20 years.