Mar 13 2020

National Volunteer Panel – Central England

Meet the National Volunteer Panel members from the Central region…



Judith Parry


I live in Hertfordshire, a short distance from Heartwood Forest. My volunteering journey started at Heartwood, when I photographed the first public planting there in 2009. Since then I have photographed many other events at Heartwood and been involved in all sorts of volunteering there, from tree planting to bluebell awareness walks. I carry out fixed point photography, photographing specific points at Heartwood each season.


I also volunteer at other Woodland Trust sites, mainly as a photographer, and at mass participation events, including the Hay Festival and Countryfile Live, where I carry out photography but also enjoy the opportunity to talk to visitors about the work of the Woodland Trust and about my experiences as a volunteer.


My photography has developed massively through my volunteering with the Trust, and I am now a professional photographer, specialising in cycling races. I love spending time outdoors with my camera, photographing racing, landscapes and wildlife.


I really enjoy the volunteering I do with the Woodland Trust and have always felt very supported and involved in all aspects of the work that I have done, working with different members of staff from all levels of the Trust. My experience as a volunteer is very positive, and I became involved in the creation of – and now the work of – the panel because I feel that it is important to ensure that all volunteers enjoy their time with the Woodland Trust. 


Judith was one of the founding panel members and is staying on for the first year to ensure the launch and the first year of the panel runs smoothly. 

Ali Wyatt


I joined the Woodland Trust in January 2019 as a Volunteer Trainer in Grantham. I’m a big believer in the importance and value of trees, so was keen to get involved with the Trust. I deliver an induction on the National Volunteering Team to new employees each month. I have also been involved with the Londonthorpe – Belton joint project, helping with public consultation work, leading guided walks and volunteering at an event.


After gaining a degree in Managerial & Administrative Studies, I worked in market research for 25 years. I started out managing research projects, unearthing insights and presenting recommended actions to clients, before taking on the management of businesses and teams. I then ran my own business for 6 years before taking early retirement in 2018. I now work part-time as an administrator.


As well as volunteering for the Woodland Trust, I volunteer for Age UK as a befriender and for the National Trust at Belton House where I’m a ranger, guided walk leader and mansion guide.


It’s critical for the Trust to retain us, its volunteers, and drive deeper engagement with us. I believe the National Volunteer Panel will help facilitate better representation of volunteers’ views, ideas and concerns, as well as better leveraging their knowledge and experience, leading to positive change. I joined the Panel to do what I can to help it succeed in its aims. I hope that being part of the Panel will broaden my knowledge of the Trust and give me the opportunity to get to know more of the volunteer and staff team.


Ian Retson


I live in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, at the heart of the 200 square mile National Forest and have been a volunteer with the Trust since 1992 when the Forest was just beginning.


After gaining a degree in History in 1972 I spent 17 years in manufacturing management before moving into Management Consultancy and Project Management, specialising in planning systems and IT; I finished my career with 13 rewarding years in local government, managing IT training for disabled and elderly people across Leicestershire.


My hobbies and passions have included long distance walking, cycling and a lifelong interest in the natural world, having joined the RSPB some 60 years ago.


When the National Forest started, the Woodland Trust came to my doorstep and I saw the perfect opportunity to combine my interests with contributing towards the local community and repairing the mining-scarred landscape; I thought creating woodland was “a job for life, and beyond”. Willesley Wood was the first flagship wood in the forest. I have monitored its progress as warden, provided species lists, photography, guided walks and helped protest against successive threats, first from opencast mining in 2000 (successfully!) and latterly against HS2 railway; I also record ancient trees and help with ad hoc campaigns such as Gifts in Wills and supporting events. The Trust now have 20 woods in the National Forest, especially our newest flagship Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood, where I walk regularly and enjoy helping at events.


I have been a Volunteer Speaker since 1993 and get a lot of satisfaction from inspiring audiences of all ages to support our cause.


I decided to join the National Volunteer Panel to give what help I can whilst I am still able.


If you would like to contact Judith, Ali or Ian you can email them here:



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