With over 100 volunteers, we are a local charity with volunteering and community spirit at its heart. Staff are employed to drive forward objectives, to manage projects and to help maintain the woods.
Board of Trustees
The governing board is made up of 11 Trustees (volunteers) – most of whom are local. The Board of Trustees has the responsibility to effectively guide the Penllergare Trust to success. Trustees are guided by the Chairman and supervise our Managing Director (who is also a Trustee and volunteer) to ensure that Penllergare Valley Woods is well managed and is operates within agreed policies, the law, and its budget. Trustees meet bi-monthly.
Day-to-day management and operations are delegated to the executive group. Guided by our Managing Director, the executive group (also made up of volunteers) reviews all operational matters and works with staff and volunteers to deliver strategic and operational objectives. The Executive Group meets monthly.
Currently there are 10 members of staff, some of whom are funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a limited period of time. Contractors are also appointed from time to time to undertake additional works. Where possible, these are drawn from the surrounding communities. The General Manager is the senior on-site manager with responsibility for the overall operational management of Penllergare, as well as for supporter and volunteer development and revenue generation.
We have an amazing team of volunteers from all backgrounds who work tirelessly to protect and revive Penllergare Valley Woods for everyone to enjoy. We, as volunteers, breathe life into the place and we come together because we care about Penllergare’s history, wildlife and people. Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do – from decision-making and managing our budgets to woodland management and ambassadorship – and we wouldn’t be able to survive without them. See our Volunteering section for further information.
Read our profiles below to find out more. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact or to have a chat with us at any time.
Chair of the Penllergare Trust
Following an engineering apprenticeship, Terry worked in industry before going into training and education, culminating as Project Manager at Swansea Business College. He is Chair of Clase & Caemawr Community First Partnership and the Friends of the Leadfield Site (Fynnon Deml), as well as a Governor of Bishop Vaughan Catholic School. His interests include wildlife and walking his dog daily at Penllergare Valley Woods (he first visited in 1953). Choral music is a particular passion and Terry sang with the Morriston Orpheus Choir for 22 years, for which he was a Trustee and Overseas Events Manager. Terry was appointed Chairman of the Penllergare Trust in 2012.
Paul is married with three grown children – all of whom have fond memories of the PVW as they grew up. Prior to his retirement, Paul had worked for 35 years in the Welsh NHS, in a variety of roles across Wales, his last position being as Divisional General Manager for Clinical Support Services with the ABM University Health Board. Paul became a Trustee in 2012. At that time he was looking for a worthwhile organisation where his experience and skills could assist in some small measure. In 2014, Paul was appointed Managing Director and Vice Chairman of the Trust, taking responsibility for the operational management arrangements of Penllergare, a role he has found particularly enjoyable and rewarding.
After qualifying as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant in 1983, Helen spent nearly 30 years working as an accountant within the NHS, primarily at Singleton Hospital but also at other locations in South Wales. As a volunteer and resident of Penllergare, Helen manages the entirety of the finances of the Penllergare Trust, including financial accounts, management accounts, financial governance, banking arrangements and control, grant applications and draw-downs and providing general financial advice. “It is exciting to become involved in such a wonderful community project right on my doorstep” she says. “It’s great to be able to help in a practical way using my financial skills”.
Living in Morriston, Brian has walked in Penllergare Valley Woods for over 20 years. He started his career as a cost and financial analyst at Ford motor company in South Wales before a career change 15 years later into human resources. Brian, who recently retired, has the responsibility to champion and develop volunteering at Penllergare and is keen to give guided walks and talks and illustrated walks to groups and organisations. His favourite place is the coffee shop. “It’s exciting to see so many people visiting Penllergare and using the coffee shop as the launch pad for their visit. Especially so many families and young children, whom we saw so few of in the past. They are essential to our future.”
John has been volunteering and campaigning for the environment for many years – in particular with the local Friends of the Earth group. Over the last six years, John has become more involved at Penllergare, firstly hands on as part of one of the very first conservation volunteer groups – gardening on a grand scale – and more recently as a Trustee. With 35 years experience in social work, John is particularly interested in community engagement and providing volunteering opportunities for a greater range of people on our doorstep – particularly communities encompassing the south of the estate. His favourite place at Penllergare is the waterfall because of the sound and sight of falling water and the chance to see grey wagtails and maybe even a dipper.
After a spell of teaching, Wendy worked in Human Resources with the British Airports Authority, followed by a period with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in Wellington and then a move to Swansea. A further spell of teaching led to the formation of her own company specialising in language courses for overseas professionals. Since her election in 2004 to the City and County of Swansea she has been the ward member for Penllergaer.
Leanne has had a varied career in industry working in the capacities of Human Resource Management and Environmental Management as well as developing Point of Sale marketing materials. She took this experience and moved into teaching as a Business Lecturer at Gower College. After enjoying walks in the woodlands with her Bulldog, and cappuccino’s in our Coffee Shop, Leanne joined the Trust to share her business and marketing experience to help grow the profile and share the secret of the woods with as many people as possible. Leanne has a keen interest in gardening and arts and crafts, including cake baking and decoration, and is a huge fan of Christmas crafts and interior design.
Growing up in Llangyfelach, Colin explored Penllergare Valley Woods and surrounding areas extensively and says that the changes made by the Trust and volunteers is truly inspirational. Colin worked in Quality Control at Velindre Tinplate Works for 11 years and then for 33 years at Swansea College and Gower College Swansea where his last position was Head of Facilities. Following early retirement in 2015 Colin was seeking a volunteering opportunity where his experience in estates management could be put to good use in the local community. He was delighted to be invited to become a trustee at Penllergare Valley Woods. Colin is married with two children and four grandchildren, and now lives in Clydach. He enjoys choral singing and joined Morriston Rugby Club Male Choir in 2016.
Trustee Emeritus and Founder Chair
One-time Professor of Landscape Architecture at Sheffield University; past President of the Landscape Institute and commissioner of the Royal Fine Art Commission, Hal was a member of the Architectural Panel of the National Trust for 18 years and is on both the UK and International ICOMOS Cultural Landscapes Committees. He was awarded the President`s Medal by the Landscape Institute and the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Hal has familial connections with Penllergare; his great grandfather married John Dillwyn Llewelyn`s eldest sister, Fanny. He was a founder member of the Penllergare Trust and appointed Chairman from 2000 – 2012.
Trustee Emeritus and Founder Member
To mark his retirement from the Management Board (2014), Richard Morris has been appointed Trustee Emeritus in celebration of his unique contribution to the saving and restoring of Penllergare. His connections with Penllergare stem largely from his passionate interest in photography, notably that of John Dillwyn Llewelyn, whose description of the pioneering orchid house eventually led to Richard discovering it in the walled gardens, so triggering the start of the Valley Woods project.The publication in 1999 of Richard’s Penllergare – A Victorian Paradise, (now a collectors’ item) raised the profile of the place to a wide and influential audience and the profits provided the initial capital for the Penllergare Trust.
Following a career in sales and marketing Ray was responsible for 16 years for the management of Margam Park, before becoming Head of Operations at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. He joined the Penllergare Trust as Project Manager for 3 years in 2009 and has since become a Marketing lecturer at Gower College. Ray has a keen interest in horticulture and is often found gardening with our volunteers on a Thursday. More recently, he has been heavily involved in the development of Phase Two of our restoration plans.
Lee is the senior on-site manager with responsibility for the overall operational management of Penllergare as well as for supporter and volunteer development and revenue generation. He has most recently been working as Director of Operations for Groundwork. With a history in Horticulture, Arboriculture, Environmental Management and Forestry, Lee has a wide range of experiences to bring to Penllergare Valley Woods. He joined the Penllergare Trust in November 2014.
Estates Team Supervisor
After taking early retirement from the steel industry, Hedley lectured part time in IT skills in the community in Swansea College. He started volunteering at Penllergare in 2009 and has since gained chainsaw and pesticide training. In November 2015 he was appointed as Estate Team Supervisor. In his free time, Hedley is involved with the Scouts and has been a Scout Leader for 45 years. His favourite part of Penllergare is sitting on the terrace outside the Coffee Shop with an espresso in his hand, chatting to the volunteers, and watching the wildlife in the Woodland Garden.
Born in Blaenymaes, Dai Whitelock has long been associated with Penllergare as a volunteer and employee and brings a wealth of expertise and sensitivity to the work. He has a strong connection with the Valley Woods, having had an adventurous childhood playing (and sometimes living) here in the 1950s and 60s. Dai makes every effort to maintain paths for you to enjoy and to protect wildlife habitats, especially on the East bank and in the south of the valley. More often than not he’ll have a strimmer in hand.
Assistant Coffee Shop Manager
Meryl has been a treasured member of our volunteer team for a number of years, before joining the staff team in 2016 as Coffee Shop Supervisor. Meryl is now the Assistant Manager and is in charge of the daily running of our Community Coffee Shop and co-ordinating the volunteers. Outside work, Meryl enjoys photography and researching local history, and is still a Woodland Conservation volunteer at Penllergare.
Coffee Shop Supervisor
Jade joined the team in July 2017 as Coffee Shop Supervisor. Born in Swansea, Jade works with Meryl in the day to day running of our Community Coffee Shop. Jade previously lived in London working in an organic food cafe and as a promotional model. In her spare time Jade enjoys socialising with friends, spending time with her family, and walking her Jack Russell.
Finance & Administration Officer
Alison joined Penllergare in November 2015. She has worked in finance for the previous eight years, after moving-on from a career in marketing. She worked for two charities before joining Penllergare, and enjoys working in the charity sector and feeling that she is doing something worthwhile. She says she loves working in the setting of the woods, with all the friendly staff and volunteers. Alison spends most of her leisure time looking after the horses and other animals on her smallholding.