John Lee OBE DL, Chairman

John is a land and property owner and manager from Devon.  He chairs the DEFRA National Appeals Panel and The Rural Youth Trust, is a Trustee of the Farmers Club, London and the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC), a Patron of Devon and Cornwall Police Cadets and a Joint Parton of Local Heroes – an anti-bullying charity.  John is also Liveryman for the Worshipful Company of Farmers, The Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers and Shearmen.  He is a Freeman of the City of London and Deputy Lieutenant of Devon.  Previously John has held various appointments at local, regional, national and European levels - examples include Chair of Governors of Bicton College, Chair of Devon County Agricultural Association, High Sheriff of Devon, Founder Chairman of SWARD (South West Agriculture and Rural Development Programme) on behalf of the SWRDA, Founder Chairman of Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) a national education charity, Chairman of NFYFC, President of the European Exchange Programme on behalf of EC, and member of the Common Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee as an EU Commissioners appointee.  John’s extensive experience has led him to chair many conferences on behalf of the European Union, as well as provide keynotes speeches on their behalf.

Malcolm Bell MBE

Malcolm was Chief Executive at Visit Cornwall from 2010 to 2023 when he became the Executive Chairman. His previous appointment was as Chief Executive of South West Tourism from 1999 to 2010. Prior to this he was Director of Economic Development for Devon and Cornwall, supporting the development of key projects including the National Marine Aquarium, The Eden Project, National Maritime Museum Cornwall as well as numerous training and business support programmes. From 2004 to 2016 Malcolm was also the UK destination representative on the European Commission Tourism Sustainability Group. Malcolm is currently the Chairman and a non-executive director of South West Lakes Limited, South West Lakes Trust's trading subsidiary.

Dinah Nichols CB

Dinah is a Governor of Plymouth University and a Trustee of the Land Trust. She was previously a non-executive director of Pennon Plc, a Commissioner of The Crown Estate, Chair of the National Forest Company and Director General (Environment) at DEFRA. She recently stepped down as Chair of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

Ed Mitchell

Ed was appointed in 2017 as Director of Environment for Pennon. Prior to this he was Executive Director at the Environment Agency, responsible for their approach to water quality, water resources, industry regulation, land management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Ed is a Non-Executive Director of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a not-for-profit company he helped set up which provides water, sanitation and hygiene services to people living in slums in the developing world.  He is also Deputy Chair of South West Water and Bournemouth Water’s Customer Challenge Group, the WaterFuture Customer Panel and Chair of South West Water’s Conservation and Recreation Forum. He chairs the Canal and River Trust Environmental Advisory Group and is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee of the Vale Academy Trust, a group of primary and secondary schools in Oxfordshire.

Chris Balch

Chris is Emeritus Professor of Planning at Plymouth University where he taught following a career in planning and economic consultancy, advising government and private sector clients on major projects and programmes covering regeneration, leisure and tourism, and infrastructure. He is an experienced business manager, having been Managing Director of DTZ UK & Ireland, and Non-Executive Director/Trustee.  He is currently Non Executive and Senior Independent Director of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Board member of LiveWest housing association. He was until recently on the Supervisory Board of Ecorys bv, a European policy and research consultancy and has chaired Hilson Moran, an engineering consultancy and Basildon Renaissance Partnership. Chris has previously advised SWW and the Trust on balancing conservation, public access and recreation across the reservoirs of the south west and chaired the Burrator Advisory Group before becoming a Trustee of South West Lakes Trust.

Dan James

Dan has had over 20 years experience within rural development and protected landscape management, balancing the needs of people and places. He currently heads up the Enterprise and Communications team at Exmoor National Park Authority overseeing the National Parks work on tourism and business support, economic development, income generation, communications, National Park Centres and grant programmes. 

Prior to his current role, Dan was the Operations Director for the Snowdonia Society, where he led the public fundraising appeal for the new Snowdon summit building.

Dan Chaired the Heart of the South West Rural Productivity Board, and has represented the South West’s National Parks on the Heart of the South West’s Policy and Technical Advisory Group, as well as serving as an advisor and/or board member to various funding programmes. He was the lead Tourism Officer for the UK National Parks over several years, during which time the National Parks were awarded the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award from Visit England. He has successfully secured and delivered grant funded projects from a range of sources including European and Central Government, Lottery, charitable trusts and philanthropic support.

Jo Traill Thomson

Jo is currently working on natural capital and local delivery for Natural England with responsibility for the Defra North Devon Landscape Pioneer. Previously she has worked as an Environmental Economics Adviser in Southern Africa with IUCN and the Department for International Development. Since 2001 she has worked in the South West on externally funded projects, protected landscapes and with Cornwall Council as a Strategy Manager.

Ashley Shopland

Ashley, now retired, was the General Manager of the UK Platform within Imerys Minerals Ltd. the china clay company based in St Austell. Originally from Launceston, his career started with English China Clays (ECC) where he gained his professional qualification in accountancy. Through various roles, he travelled abroad extensively with the company and had responsibility for a business supplying UK products globally. He also served on the SW Council of the CBI for many years, as well as previously being a Governor of various schools in the St Austell area.

Ashley is now the Vice-Chair of Trustee's with the Athena Learning Trust covering nine secondary and primary schools in Cornwall and North Devon, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Cornwall Rugby Football Union where he covers a Financial and Commercial Development remit.

Ashley’s experience with Imerys covered all facets of General Management, but in particular covered New Business Development and Real Estate Management over his last 10-12 years with the Company.  Key developments ranged from: the creation of an eco-community (Eco-Bos) to create a whole new community on former china clay workings / land; the set-up of a recycling business hosting third party 'green / inert' waste streams and the creation of artificial soils to compliment the extensive land restoration program; expansion of the secondary aggregate (china clay by-product) business to include significant exports out of the SW region; introducing the prospect of lithium extraction and processing via third party interest and leading to Imerys agreeing to direct involvement in a jv to progress this through to commercial reality; and a network of renewable energy installations (wind and solar) across Cornwall/Devon, many used to supplement the industry's own consumption.

Monica Read

Monica was, until recently, Business Services & Sustainability Director of South West Water Limited. She joined South West Water in 1992 and was responsible for Business Development, HR and Employee Development. Prior to South West Water, Monica worked for Touche Ross & Co. She is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and is a graduate in Environmental Science. Monica is a non-executive director of the Trust's trading company, South West Lakes Limited.

South West Lakes Limited 

South West Lakes ltd. (company number 03955075) is the charity's wholly owned trading subsidiary which operates activity centres, campsites, angling and hospitality venues. Profits are gift aided to the charity. Malcolm Bell is a Non-Executive Director and chairs the subsidiary. Malcolm is joined on the board of the subsidiary by Monica Read, Dan James, James Platts (also Chief Executive) and Ashley Shopland.