To join VINE or to contribute to the web site, please contact:

Sophie Lake Email: sophie [at] vineproject [dot] org [dot] uk, Tel: 01929 552444

Making a donation

If you would like to make a donation electronically, simply click Donate and you will be taken to the PayPal site where you can choose the amount you wish to contribute and complete the transaction. The VINE Project is very grateful for your support.


Security information: Please note that your electronic payment is carried out entirely on the PayPal website using their secure system and in accordance with their policy, terms and conditions. For your security please ensure the address you arrive at begins with

Steering group member profiles

John Bacon (CHAIR)
After an initial career on the \'home\' farm in the late 1950\'s/early 1960\'s - spraying everything in sight with nasty organo-chlorine and organo-phosphorous chemicals - I started as a voluntary warden for the Nature Conservancy Council in Kent in 1967(!). In 1970 upon leaving the farm I spent three months working alongside a coppice woodsman which left me in awe at the sheer variety and weight of flowers, birds and butterflies that resulted from this management. That convinced me that \'wildlife was the life for me\' and I was lucky to get a new job working for the National Trust as the Northumberland Coastal Warden from 1971. Various nature reserve management jobs followed for the Nature Conservancy and English Nature in NW Scotland, Hampshire and then as Regional Chief Warden West Midlands.  Took up the Senior Land Manager role for English Nature in 1994 which included coordinating the FACT and GAP projects and providing practical advice to land managers.  Upon retirement in 2005 I returned to a voluntary warden role for English Nature coordinating the work of the VINE Steering Group whilst keeping my hand in on practical land management by chairing Butterfly Conservation\'s Reserve\'s Working Group.  
VINE was conceived with others during my last year as I am convinced that remembering the inspirations and values that started us all off on our wildlife and countryside careers is crucial to our success in delivering the goods. My brief perspective on the universe is provided in the \'personal inspirations\' section of the web site. 

Adam Cormack

My current position is senior communications manager for The Wildlife Trusts, where I have worked for eight eventful years. During that time I have worked on communications projects including websites, apps, membership magazines, books, branded products, reports etc etc and have met lots of fascinating people with a passion for nature. A self-professed (very) amateur naturalist, I am probably at my happiest rambling in my local woods and meadows in search of butterflies, birds and wildflowers, quite often with fairly interested children in tow. I write a nature column for my local parish newsletter and my other interests include running, cycling, swimming and (currently) learning to play the mandolin. I enjoy reading but don’t do nearly enough of it these days! Raised in the west country I now live in the rural East Midlands where I have become strangely drawn to its large skies and spaciousness.
tel: 01636 670063

Rob Cunningham
Head of Water Policy, RSPB. Recently joined.

Joyce Gilbert
After ten years of working in medical research, I decided to abandon my career as a biochemist and pursue my growing interest in environmental education.

Over the past twenty years several jobs have given me the chance to work with poets, musicians, artists, writers and scientists and also to work with very different communities in rural and urban areas from industrial Sheffield to the remote Hebridean island of Islay. This unique set of experiences has led me to believe that the key to drawing out people\'s empathy and love of the natural world is by learning in the outdoors through a combination of arts, science and philosophy.

Intrigued by holistic systems thinking and its role in promoting creativity in education, I applied for Winston Churchill  Fellowship in 1998. As a result I spent an inspirational four months in Canada which led to the idea of creating an educational charity called SpeyGrian  ( which has an underlying philosophy very similar to VINE.

I am based in the village of Luncarty in Perthshire. In my spare time I enjoys hillwalking, cycling, sailing and canoeing and - in more leisurely moments  - reading, listening to music and experimenting with textiles.

Tel: 0131 3116500

Bill Grayson

I run a conservation grazing business in NW England and like many conservation practitioners frequently find myself so engrossed in the gritty minuteae of chasing verifiable outcomes that I frequently overlook the more reflective and inspirational aspects of the natural world. Which is why I was drawn to VINE initially.

I am also an organic adviser, helping farmers and other land managers to negotiate some of the pitfalls that await them as they convert their land out of chemical based systems. I particularly ascribe to organic husbandry\'s central tenet that we should not "seek to dominate nature", something that modern industrial farming appears largely to have forgotten. Maybe I should tell them about VINE?

Tel: 01524 761347

Kay Haw

Currently a Conservation Advisor for the Woodland Trust, I am passionate about the natural world. Its importance in supporting life on this planet is only matched by its awe-inspiring beauty and intriguing complexity.

My hope for the future is that we humans truly reintegrate ourselves with nature, and use our energies and intellects for the benefit of all species and habitats. By inspiring and educating we may one day make this the new global paradigm. VINE has its part to play in this, so do join the discussion.

Tel: 0845 293 5808

Chris Hogarth

After graduating in Zoology I spent time running an educational narrowboat tripping service on the canals of Manchester and restoring traditional working boats in the off-season.  I then worked for one of the Groundwork Trusts in both a paid and voluntary capacity delivering community and school environmental projects.  I was lucky enough to take advantage of the break-up of the NCC by being appointed Urban Projects Officer for English Nature based in the Midlands.  Since then I’ve had a range of roles within English Nature and Natural England from Species Protection Officer and Conservation Officer to Health and Environment Specialist and my current role as Team Leader for the Shropshire Land Management Team.

For the last 15 years I have also had a spare time job as a part-time youth worker.  Using outdoor education to help reconnect young people with the environment and giving young people the skills to reconnect themselves through delivering the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.  I am a qualified mountain leader and paddlesport coach and like nothing better than going out to play in the environment.  For a philosophy I turn to Friluftsliv, which in my interpretation is just being in the natural environment and to Rachel Carson’s work The Sense of Wonder.  It will be time to step off the planet when I find myself not saying “WOW” on a regular basis.

Tel: 0300 060 0614

Tim Kemp
Facilitator and writer on management learning and team development. Coach and management adviser to conservation professionals and scientific specialists as they manage the challenging transition from specialists to generalist management and leadership positions.

I also have a particular fascination for the way we seem determined to build organisations that stifle innovation and punish creativity...that substitute systems for spirit and metrics for trust. My interest in the land and its impact on human culture and thought go back to my young life in Canada. I am awed by scale and interconnectedness. And I have a soft spot for loons. 

Tel/fax: +44 (0) 1743 718843 
Mobile: +44 (0) 7932 733903

Sophie Lake (SECRETARY)
I currently work as an ecologist for Footprint Ecology, a small ethically run consultancy based in Purbeck, Dorset, where I am also involved in the local Transition initiative, working towards local resilience in the face of climate change. Previously employed by the Royal Society for Wildlife Trusts as UK co-ordinator for the Grazing Animals Project, I was delighted when work with FACT brought me together with like-minded colleagues to found VINE. In love with wild places and wildlife since my childhood, an interest in deep ecology sustained me through my first few conservation jobs, until I felt I needed time out to reassess my notions of nature conservation and where it was leading me. "Time out" took the form of a PhD based on the Dorset heaths which gave me both the opportunity to develop my science while exploring other techniques for understanding nature. Further “time out”  took me abroad to work with various conservation and development NGOs and agencies in India, Fiji, New Zealand and Bolivia which happily left me with a renewed zest for conservation in the UK. I hope that VINE can help us all maintain our zest.

Tel: 01929 554222

Matthew Oates
My academic background is in the arts, for I was passionately keen on English literature, especially poetry, during my teens, and wanted to become a writer. That desire is currently reasserting itself after a long sojourn in practical nature conservation. First, I fell in love with a nature reserve in Hampshire, and became its warden. Having graduated through the school of voluntary work I carried out contract work for various conservation organisations, and explored much of Britain’s natural heritage. Since 1991 have been privileged to work for the National Trust as a senior ecologist, with the pompous title of Adviser on Nature Conservation. I must confess, though, that the burgeoning bureaucracy is stifling my dedication, and I do not believe in biodiversity. Above all, mine is a spiritual journey into and with Nature, a pilgrimage. 

Major spiritual influences have been poetry, Quakerism and, more recently, Sufism. My religious outlook is strongly, almost fiercely universalist: as Rumi puts it – ‘I go into a church, a synagogue, a mosque, and I see but one altar.’ 
Tel: 07771 971488


Peter Phillipson
Currently works as a Director of an environmental communication, training and interpretation consultancy called TellTale

Peter was trained as an ecologist and landscape architect. After a brief spell working on environmental improvement schemes in the East End of Glasgow, he chose to follow a career in nature conservation. He worked as a volunteer for the Nature Conservancy Council, was Education Liaison Officer for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and then Conservation Officer for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. From 1985 to 1995 he was Senior Ecologist for the Peak District National Park. He has particular interests in site and habitat management and in encouraging visitors to appreciate the beauty, interest and fragility of wildlife and cultural heritage sites.

Peter is an experienced trainer. He is responsible for the development and course direction of all the professional training courses in nature conservation at Losehill Hall. Peter sits on the Training, Education and Careers Committee of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

 Patrick Vincent (TREASURER)

Company Director of Green Mantle (Ecosophy) Limited, an environmental & wildlife habitat management service covering Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset. The business promotes the development of a fresh approach, integrating nature conservation with ecologically-inspired philosophies.

Tel: 01761 413638