Steve Alton

Conservation Officer

Senior Management Team [email protected]

Steve joined the Forest in December 2013 and has over 25 years’ experience in the conservation sector. Originally a conservation officer for the Wildlife Trusts, he then spent 13 years running the UK programme of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank project. Steve oversees the day-to-day conservation management of the Forest, and has a particular interest in interpretation. He brings with him Zaf, an irrepressible flat-coated retriever cross.

Kirsty Dirs

Clerk to the Board

Senior Management Team [email protected]

Kirsty joined the Forest in July 2015. The Conservators made a change to the role of Clerk, splitting the post into two separate functions; Clerk and Finance Officer. As Clerk Kirsty is responsible for the Board and Committee governance processes, Licences and Bye-law infringements and handles planning applications affecting Ashdown Forest. She also supervises office administration and personnel matters. Aside from the Forest, Kirsty has a keen interest in shark conservation.

Louise Meehan

Finance Officer

Senior Management Team [email protected]

Louise joined the Forest in the new standalone role of Finance Officer in July 2015. Louise is responsible for the day-to-day financial management at Ashdown Forest and provides financial support and guidance to the Board of Conservators.

Katherine Meade

Forest Centre Office Manager & Business Development Manager

Katherine joined the Forest in April 2018. She is responsible for meeting documentation, committee meeting minutes, riding permits, the information barn, shop, exhibitions, hiring the education barn, the volunteers, advertising, Forest events, the website, commercial dog walkers, dog training, sale of meat, wood permits, collating management information, Forest rent and rates.

She works with James Clow on Income Generation Projects

Income Generation Team - ext 205 [email protected]

Caroline FitzGerald

Lead Grazing Officer

Caroline joined the team as the Grazing Officer in mid 2010. She was previously Heathland Project Officer for the High Weald AONB Unit at Flimwell. Caroline is currently assisted by a team of voluntary lookerers.

Dan Graeme

Grazing Officer

Dan joined the grazing team in July 2016 after volunteering for them since 2009. He was brought up on a local dairy farm and has always loved working with livestock. In 2007 he made a career change and went from being a chef to working on local farms and shearing sheep. He has two collies to help him and a terrier aptly named Bracken.

Rich Allum

South Chase Ranger

Rich Allum joined the Forest in 2005. He obtained a degree in Ecology & Conservation from the University of Sussex before becoming a Ranger for East Sussex County Council and Bracknell Forest Borough Council. Before joining us, Rich spent five years as Heathland Project Officer in the High Weald AONB. Rich owns Scallywag a very handsome and personable cross-breed.

James Clow

North Chase Ranger

James Clow took over as North Chase Ranger in April 2018 having worked as the Forest Centre Office Manager since January 2017. James has lived close to the Forest since 2005 and has a background in engineering, contract management, recruitment, tourism and a keen interest in conservation.

James also works with Katherine Meade on Income Generation Projects

Income Generation Team - ext 205 [email protected]

Michael Payne

West Chase Ranger

Mike Payne studied at Brinsbury College for three years and had qualifications on Countryside Management at both National and 1st Diploma levels. Mike has been on the Forest since 2003 and was promoted to a Ranger position in 2011. Mike is super with a chainsaw and a tractor and has many other skills learned as a Countryside Worker. Mike would like to have a dog as soon as possible.

Chris Sutton

East Chase Ranger

Chris has a National Diploma in Countryside Recreation from Merrist Wood Agricultural College and joined us in 1988.  Besides managing the East Chase he has responsibilities for Health and Safety, Forest Centre maintenance and management. He liaises with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for forest fire control and training.  He owns Bobby, a young sprollie who is still learning the ropes of being a Rangers dog.

Colin Lutman

Countryside Worker

Colin Lutman has been the Forest tractor driver for over 18 years and his knowledge of the area is second to none - there isn't a slit-trench or drainage ditch that Colin hasn't got stuck in! He is now very experienced in all aspects of the Forest's machinery which includes high horse-power four-wheel drive tractors, forwarders, winches and forestry grinders. Like most tractor drivers, Colin is keen to do his own maintainance and repairs to the machines.

Ashley Payne

Countryside Worker

Ashley joined the team in early 2014 as a Countryside Worker. Prior to this Ashley completed a foundation degree in Countryside Management at Plumpton College and worked as a volunteer for eight years with a variety of conservation organisations during his spare time.

Duncan Thatcher

Countryside Worker

Duncan Thatcher is passionate about heathland conservation.  He started out as a volunteer at nearby Chailey Common before working for the Wildlife Trusts at Greenham and Crookham Commons in West Berkshire. From there he became a heathland warden for Natural England on the Thames Basin Heaths Project.  Now he brings his knowledge of managing heathland to Ashdown Forest.  "I am really looking forward to connecting with this landscape, its wildlife and the people that live and work here.  It's a very special place."

Glen Poland

Deer Programme Coordinator

Glen joined the Ashdown Forest in September 2016. Glen was brought up from a young age managing wild deer in England, when he left school in 2008, he made the decision to go to Plumpton college to achieving a National Diploma in game and countryside management, specialising in deer management. After leaving college in 2010, Glen continued to manage deer on large estates across the south east of England. Glen is very excited be running the new deer management program here on the forest.

Flik Payne

Office Assistant

Flik joined the team in June 2019 and works Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the Forest Centre Office. She assists with administration tasks and helps organise volunteers and events.


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