Our people



Neil Clennell - CEO

Neil has over 25 years of experience in the fields of conservation biology and landscape ecology, supported by degrees in Biological Sciences and Environmental Assessment and Management. He has applied his skills in a range of scientific, commercial consultancy and non-profit organisations and joined the Wychwood Project in January 2019.

Tel: 07584 262 437 (Office)

Email: neil@wychwoodproject.org.uk

Core hours 9.00am to 5pm, Monday to Friday 

Toby Swift - Countryside Learning / Volunteer Programme Officer

Toby has worked for a variety of conservation and educational organisations; notably BTCV, Three Valleys Water and several FE colleges, most recently at Abingdon and Witney's Common Leys Campus.  Prior to embarking on his conservation career he worked for Tree Surgery contactors and Landscape gardening firms so brings a wealth of practical and academic skills to the organisation.

Toby runs the rural skills and education programme for young people within the Wychwood area covering: practical task days as well as Family fun days, a summer school and work experience placements. 

Toby also works with our volunteers, engaging with and inspiring people to participate in conervation and other volunteering activities. 

Tel: 07981 134804
Email: toby@wychwoodproject.org.uk

Core hours 9.00am to 5pm, Monday to Friday 

Martin Kerr - Operations Officer 

Martin joined us at the Wychwood Project in April 2018 as our new Operations Officer taking care of a variety of tasks for us including dealing with the administration of  our income and expenditure. Martin has a background working in the charity sector and enjoys the Forest Fair each September and getting outdoors from his office role! In his spare time he enjoys exploring historical sites and is involved in his local rugby team as the match day Manager.

Tel: 07584 262 437 (Office)

Email: martin@wychwoodproject.org.uk

Core hours 9.00am to 5pm, Weds & Thurs 

Genny Early - Communications and Events Officer

Genny joined us at the Wychwood Project in February 2020 as our Communications and Events Officer. Genny also volunteers with the Wychwood Flora Group and Wychwood Bird Aid.

Tel: 07584 262 437 (Office)

Email: genny@wychwoodproject.org.uk

Core hours 9.00am to 5pm, Mon & Tues


Chair - David Astor

David Astor CBE was brought up at Bruern. As a businessman he co-founded Jupiter Asset Management and Classic FM: he also worked for The Housing Corporation. He has been chair of the CPRE, Southern Arts, Turn2Us, Action for Prisoners' Families and The Richmond Fellowship. Locally he has been chair of The Theatre Chipping Norton, a trustee of The Oxford Community Foundation, a patron of The Mulberry Bush school, a Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and chair of The Bruern Parish Meeting. He farms his own land and two other farms and is in the process of incorporating natural flood management on his farm. This involves planting 20,000 trees, installing woody dams, creating bunds and small ponds.

He is totally committed to the area and his four children and eleven of his grandchildren live within walking distance.


Henry Astor

Henry Astor has recently been recruited as a trustee of the Wychwood Project. Five years ago Henry returned to his farm near Milton-under-Wychwood where he was born and raised. He is passionate about preserving the countryside and the history and heritage of the Wychwood forest area. He is currently focused on working with landowners to restore sections of the Evenlode river. He is also interested in connecting children to the Wychwood forest and helping them appreciate the wonderful aspects of their environment.


Cynthia Sweeney Barnes

Cynthia Barnes

Cynthia Sweeney Barnes has been a member of the Wychwood Project for several years and is keen to preserve and enhance the local environment in which she, her husband and children work and live. Cynthia has over 25 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry, operating at a senior management level in The City for most of these. Cynthia is a member of the Finance Committee. 


Roy Noble

Roy Noble is a retired engineering consultant and has been a trustee for 12 years. He has been involved with fund raising for various projects – in particular the development of Foxburrow, our 20 acre community wood. During the last 5 years he has worked with the previous Project Director to design and implement the development of the site and to organise the planting of the 14,000 trees which now comprise the maturing Foxburrow Wood.

He then took over responsibility for the further development and maintenance of the wood. He also leads a group who are studying the feasibility of building a Wychwood Forest Centre and the involvement of the Wychwood Project in the formal education of 7 to 13 year old children from local schools to help meet their new curriculum requirements in countryside conservation and development.

He and his family team have managed the traffic management and parking of the 2000 cars at the annual Forest Fair. His other interests include classical music and he is treasurer of a local film making group and a model ship building society

Harry St John

Harry has lived in North Leigh for 22 years, and has been involved with the Wychwood Project for at least 12 of them. After a career as a rural Chartered Surveyor for 45 years, Harry is now retired, and is particularly interested in rural enterprise, forestry, and nature generally. Harry has an allotment where he grows vegetables ‘badly’; he has been a Parish Councillor for North Leigh for 15 years, including several as Chairman and now represents North Leigh as a District Councillor with WODC. Harry is keen on the education work of the Wychwood Project, and its role in encouraging young people from both rural areas and towns to learn more about  the countryside, and in bridging the gap between town and country. He is keen to promote the Wychwood Project as an environmentally friendly farming "cluster" by working with / encouraging local farmers and landowners whilst involving the local residents of all the villages and their Parish Councils on better ways of managing their land and gardens - especially focussed on bee/pollinator/butterfly friendly planting

Roger Newman

Roger spent most of his career in the international biosciences business where he has held director level positions in sales, marketing and human resources. On retirement, he studied environmental conservation at Oxford and has since been a trustee and reserve warden for the local Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), and trustee and Vice Chairman of the Chiltern Society. Now living in Witney, Roger is keen to support the Wychwood Project’s commitment to the local natural environment.

Robert Crocker

Robert farms a 650 acre mixed organic farm in Freeland. The Wychwood Project was instrumental in assisting his first Countryside Stewardship application, leading on to the current Whole Farm HLS. Robert would like to share the experience he has gained over the years with the Wychwood project. With a love of the countryside and nature, he is keen to promote the benefits to wildlife achieved by linking fragmented habitats by means of wildlife corridors.

Lucy Staveley

Lucy has spent a decade working overseas in health and education for a variety of organisations, including Oxfam and the UN. Since returning to the UK in 2009, she has been living in Fulbrook. Now a busy mother of 4 small children she focuses on local community projects. She is a governor at Burford Primary School where she been instrumental in developing their outdoor learning programme, and trained as a Forest School teacher in 2015. Lucy has both project management and fundraising experience. She has a particular interest in helping develop the Wychwood Project’s learning programme.

Robert Warner

Robert is an experienced Chartered Accountant, Finance Director and non-executive director, having served on the Boards of a number of private and public companies over the last 30 years. Following his retirement in 2016 after 14 years as Finance Director of Neptune Investment Management Limited, he now acts as a consultant CFO, as well as holding a number of directorships and trusteeships. He and his family have lived on a small farm near Witney since 1991, during which time many acres of trees have been planted. He has also owned other woodlands in England and Scotland, so maintains a strong interest in the environment in general and tree-planting in particular.

Ian Wilkinson

Ian Wilkinson studied farm and grassland management at Berkshire College of Agriculture and 32 years ago he joined Cotswold Seeds, a family business, founded by Robin Hill in 1974 and now based in Moreton-in-Marsh. The fundamental focus of the seed business is providing an information bridge between farmers and the scientific community and environmental bodies. Cotswold Seeds has built its reputation on developing forage, herbal leys, green manures and complex seed mixtures to improve soil health, animal health and ultimately human health through the food chain, and now supplies 15,000 farmers. It’s always been part of Ian’s vision for the business to have a farm and three years ago, Cotswold Seeds acquired Honeydale Farm, 100 acres in the Cotswolds, which is being developed as a centre for food and farming diversity and enterprise.