Annual General Meeting

Cormorant stretching wings
23rd November 2020 5pm

Annual General Meeting

Meeting Details

The 2020 Durham Wildlife Trust Annual General Meeting will be held on the 23rd November at 5pm as an online meeting using video conferencing. Members are invited to attend the meeting to hear about the Trust's work and financial performance from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 and to approve the appointment of new Trustees and auditors.

Sign-up to attend here. 


• Apologies for absence
• Minutes of the 2019 Annual General meeting
• Adoption of Annual Report and Consolidated Accounts
• Chair’s remarks
• Approval of Members of the Trust's Board
• Approval of auditors for the ensuing year

Financial Information

You can find an overview of the Trust's financial information on our website.

Financial Information

Full audited accounts are available to download. Members should get in touch by email if they would like a printed copy posting


Approval of Members of the Trust Board

The Annual General Meeting is the point during the year when members of the Trust can put themselves forward to be Trustees and members of the Trust Board. Trustees oversee the governance of the charity and guide its overall strategy. The deadline for applications closed on the 26th October.

This year three Trustees, Chris Smith, Robert Kirton-Darling and Alan Holden, will be standing down. Four existing Trustees have decided to seek reappointment following completion of their first four year term - Peter Bell, Michael Coates, Christopher Gorman and Ian Thomas. One member, who is currently a co-opted member of the Board and acts as Treasurer, Tony Pensom, is seeking formal appointment as a Trustee and Board member, and another member, Paul Davidson is seeking appointment for his first 4 year term. All the proposed appointments are in line with the Trust's governance documents, the Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association.  

Each of those named above has completed the formal application process put in place by the Board to ensure that Durham Wildlife Trust follows Charity Commission guidance on the appointment of Trustees. They fulfil all the necessary criteria and their skills and knowledge will help guide the work of Durham Wildlife Trust. This year the appointment process is non competitive and does not require a vote at the AGM as there are fewer members seeking appointment than the number of places available.

A profile of each member standing to be a Trustee and Board member is given below.

Peter Bell

Peter Bell photo

I am seeking re-election to Trust Council for a further four years, as I am keen to continue to play my part in helping Durham Wildlife Trust to fulfil its potential in conserving and promoting wildlife between the Tyne and the Tees.

I am a recently-retired local government ecologist and countryside manager, with twenty-seven years’ experience with two of the local authorities in the Trust’s area of operation (twenty years with Gateshead and seven with Sunderland). For all of that time I worked within Council planning functions, building up experience of the local authority planning system.

I am a keen birder and amateur ornithologist, and have been for almost 50 years – it was this that led me to graduate in Ecology from Edinburgh University. I subsequently obtained a PGCE at Newcastle, then worked for the RSPB and National Trust, before moving into local government with Sunderland in 1989.

I have served a number of terms on Trust Council, going back to the early 1990s, so I have been with Durham Wildlife Trust through good times and bad, and have seen the organisation grow and develop greatly in that time. I was a keen advocate of the Trust’s move to its HQ at Rainton Meadows in the late 1990s.

In my current term I’ve been an active Council member, including involvement in Durham Wildlife Trust’s governance review, providing advice in resisting the recent housing proposal adjacent to Rainton Meadows, and undertaking a long-term ornithological study of the Trust’s developing Shibdon Meadow Nature Reserve.

My key areas of interest and expertise are therefore ecology, ornithology, conservation and reserves management, as well as local government and the planning system.

I also have a particular geographical interest in the Trust’s work in south Tyne and Wear, as I was born in Sunderland, spent the majority of my career in Gateshead, and have lived in South Tyneside for thirty years. I believe there is untapped potential here, particularly in my home borough of South Tyneside, where the Trust is still without a nature reserve.

I hope you’ll re-elect me so that I can continue to play my part in steering this key wildlife charity through the next four important years.

Michael Coates

Photo of Trustee Michael Coates

Living within walking distance of Rainton Meadows, I had been keen to support Durham Wildlife Trust in a more substantial way for a long time, and four years ago I got the opportunity by becoming a Trustee.  Since then I have also volunteered as a “Weekend Ambassador”, meeting and greeting visitors as they arrive at Rainton and engaging with those walking around. At around the same time I took on the role of coordinating the annual dragonfly survey at Durham Wildlife Trust sites, running a series of walks and talks, ID training sessions and visits to various Durham Wildlife Trust locations. Now in its 4th year we have over 50 spotters and the most comprehensive survey data in the North East.  I was recently appointed County Recorder, so will be able to widen the audience even further.

Aside from educating people about wildlife at our sites, I also help out with hedgehog rescue and apart from having released about 12 a year in my back garden, I am often called to collect poorly or underweight hogs and get them to rescue centres.  During the lockdown, I delivered the first of the Durham Wildlife Trust online events, and of course, the topic was the care and protection of hedgehogs! 

In terms of my direct responsibilities as a trustee, I have helped to develop HR processes, such as a more rigourous method of selecting trustees and have provided advice as needed. I am a regular contributor to the excellent marketing carried out by Durham Wildlife Trust and many of the photos and videos you will see on our social media sites, originated from me.  I was particularly proud of a video from Rainton being shown on Springwatch, as anything I can do to raise the profile and visitor numbers of our sites is very important to me.  I am passionate about conserving wildlife from the Tees to the Tyne and in particular about supporting the 50@50 campaign, which will hopefully see the number of Durham Wildlife Trust reserves rise to 50, and our ability to engage with wildlife lovers across the whole region will become easier.

Paul Davidson

Paul Davidson photo

Born and bred in Gateshead I have been passionate about watching and conserving birds/wildlife for fifty years especially at the local Durham Wildlife Trust reserve of Shibdon Pond.

When I retired from professional life nearly three years ago and had more free time, I became a Durham Wildlife Trust volunteer and have since acted as a warden’s assistant as well as helping at events and with fundraising.

I would like to become a trustee so that I can help the Trust to grow its membership and thus its revenue by raising its profile in areas where there is scope to do so.

In particular I believe that in the north west of the region, there is the opportunity to promote more widely the many reserves in Gateshead and elsewhere to foster interest from the large conurbations and population centres along and adjacent to the Tyne. This in turn should not only generate new members but more volunteers too which will help the sites to fulfil their potential for wildlife and visitors. I would very much like to help achieve those goals.

In my professional life I was a Chartered Insurance Practitioner and a Chartered Loss Adjuster handling complex insurance claims and latterly running examination support programmes for professional qualifications.

For a number of years I have also been a volunteer at Radio Tyneside, a community and hospital station which serves Newcastle and Gateshead broadcasting on fm, hospedia and online I present The Afternoon Show three days a week.

I believe:-

  • • My professional negotiation and general communication skills
  • • local wildlife knowledge
  • • Gateshead base
  • • volunteer background

all help to make me a suitable candidate to serve as a Trustee.

Chris Gorman

Chris Gorman photo

Retired Chartered Engineer.

I’m a keen supporter of the natural environment and throughout my career have always tried to ensure that any civil engineering works were done sympathetically to the environment.

I believe the main thing I bring to the Trust is scrutiny and development of good governance of the Trust's work.

Tony Pensom

Trustee Tony Pensom

Introduced to Durham Wildlife Trust at a time when a new Treasurer was being sought, it has quickly become clear to me what a vital role the Trust fulfils in protecting wildlife and conserving the natural environment ‘from Tees to Tyne’. Equally apparent is the quality, dedication and commitment of the staff and volunteers who work for the Trust to help it fulfil its objectives and I would be honoured to join and act as your Treasurer.

My professional life was spent in senior general management roles, principally in industries supporting the construction sector. Latterly I specialised in environmentally-friendly building shell solutions rooted in the use of renewable and recyclable resources to provide healthy, energy-efficient buildings using natural materials.

I believe I can offer broad management experience and strong support to the Finance and Senior Management teams in developing a robust management accounting structure that will ensure a sound and sustainable foundation for the future of the Trust.

Ian Thomas

Photo of trustee  Ian Thomas