Naturetrek staff at Mingledown Barn
All of Naturetrek’s staff offer a friendly, flexible and expert service. Most have been with the company a long time and know the trade inside out. All our staff have a very keen interest in natural history, conservation and travel, and we pride ourselves on the extremely personal and knowledgeable service we offer you. You can find details about individual members of staff below - simply click on the person's name to reveal their details.
Reservations & Customer Support
Gini came to work for Naturetrek in November 1997 after spending two years in the Falkland Islands where she was employed by the Falkland Islands Tourist Board. Apart from arranging tours of the Islands, including those for Naturetrek, much of her time was spent exploring with her twin daughters who were also fascinated by the abundance of wildlife there. They would spend countless hours watching the penguins’ antics, from the hilarious but cross-looking Rockhoppers to the aloof Kings who tried desperately to keep their chicks from playing with her daughters! Although Gini is now completely office bound, it doesn’t stop her dreaming of all the wonderful places we can send you to. Gini is the manager of our very busy reservations department which deals with all the bookings we receive and makes sure everyone is invoiced for their holidays! She also takes care of any of your insurance queries.
Gail’s career in the travel industry began after studying business with travel and tourism at university. Initially she was immersed in the Australasian sector, first working for a hotel consortium covering all areas of Australasia and the Pacific Rim and later continuing her enthusiasm for this part of the world with a 2-year stint at Qantas Airways. Gail then decided to leave London and relocate to Buckinghamshire to take up a position as a project manager for an incentive travel company, organising tours all over the world. After taking a break from the travel industry to raise two children and re-train and work as a teacher, Gail more recently made the decision to return to the travel industry, joining Naturetrek’s Sales and Reservations department. She has enjoyed travelling to many of Naturetrek’s destinations including Ecuador, Northern Spain, Sweden, Lesbos, the Dolomites, Majorca and Australia and sometimes manages to combine this travel with her enjoyment of watersports; white water rafting in the French alps or canoeing along the Dordogne as part of a summer holiday. Living locally, Gail enjoys the rich natural history of the Itchen Valley and its water meadows on regular walks in the area; she also, in common with several others in the office, has a passion for cricket.
After leaving school I decided to follow a life of crime! I hasten to add that I joined the Civil Service and worked for many years in the Crown Court as a Court Clerk. Before taking an early severance package in 2009, I worked in a specialist team which assessed the fees and costs of barristers and solicitors on criminal cases. I then worked on a self employed basis in the Crown Court, tape recording criminal proceedings until February 2012. I joined Naturetrek in October 2012 where I am currently working in the Reservations Department. I enjoy travelling and together with my husband, Alan, we have visited many wonderful places throughout Europe and the Caribbean. Highlights have been swimming with dolphins, dancing with flamingos, climbing a Mayan temple and trekking through a rain forest in Tobago. I also enjoy reading and dining out.
Simon has had a keen interest in wildlife and the outdoor life since childhood. This led him to study for a degree in Zoology with Marine Zoology at the University of Wales in Bangor, a base from which he spent a great deal of time walking in the stunning surroundings of Snowdonia. After graduating, Simon spent five months in Colorado working on a project to record the breeding success of Peregrine Falcons in river canyons ... a study that involved ample opportunities for intrepid river-rafting expeditions in search of his quarry! A summer spent carrying out ecological surveys all over England was followed by a range of projects overseas. Amongst the latter, Simon helped to start up a radio-tracking project in Hungary to monitor breeding Barn Owls for the Hungarian Barn Owl Foundation. He also spent time in Mexico, where he worked as a field assistant helping to collect data for a PhD project. This involved him spending his days in a canoe amongst the mangroves recording the behaviour and feeding ecology of Black Howler Monkeys (though at times it included learning the hard way what Howler Monkeys deposit from the tree-tops!). Both these projects gave Simon valuable field experience and, on returning to the UK, he worked at Marwell Wildlife before joining Naturetrek's busy Sales and Reservations team in 2013. Simon lives locally, has a passion for walking and photography, and an ambition to travel next to Africa in search of wildlife.
After studying Travel and Tourism at college, Hayley worked in insurance for 17 years. However, after having children she decided to return to her first passion – travel – and she joined our busy Reservations & Customer Support team in 2016. Hayley has visited many countries in Europe and, with friends and family in the USA, she visits the eastern seaboard regularly where she enjoys watching bears (Shenandoah National Park, Virginia), dolphins and other wildlife. A recent trip to the Maldives – where Hayley snorkelled with rays and saw a Black-tipped Reef Shark nursery – has ignited her interest in tropical destinations; the rainforests of Costa Rica and seeing Red Pandas in the wild are next on her wish list! At home in Hampshire, she enjoys walking on the South Downs and along local beaches, as well as family trips in her camper van.
Georgie has been captivated by wildlife and travel from a young age. As a teenager she was lucky enough to visit a number of wildlife hotspots including South Africa, Sri Lanka and the rainforests of Borneo. During her gap year she worked for a conservation project in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park monitoring elephant herd movements. She then spent some time in Australia before returning to the UK to study Zoology at the University of Southampton; her dissertation focused on the effect of forest management on small mammal populations in Dorset’s Wareham Forest. After graduating, Georgie headed for South America where she worked for a conservation organisation in Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve. After working for two years in our busy Reservations & Customer Support Department, she has now moved to join our Tailormade holidays team.
It would be hard to find someone with a more knowledgeable understanding of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma and Bhutan than Rajan. Born and raised in India as a member of one of Kashmir’s prominent families, he has excellent connections and uses them extensively to experience the full gamut of what the country has to offer. Rajan has travelled throughout India and the world, and has worked in the travel industry for the past 19 years, nine of which were based in India. His passion is logistics and complex itineraries which, through his intimate knowledge and in depth comprehension of the idiosyncrasies of the Indian subcontinent, he can ensure flow effortlessly. His vivacious and bubbly personality, as well as his profound understanding of the traveller’s requirements, are a major asset to the company. Rajan graduated in Business Studies and also has a diploma in Travel and Tourism from Delhi University. He has led many Naturetrek groups to India and always been lucky in seeing Tigers!
David joined Naturetrek in 2016 and is our resident astronomy expert. His enthusiasm for astronomy started at an early age when he learnt the constellations by locating the planets, galaxies and nebulae with his telescope. As an undergraduate, reading Mathematics and Physics, he took courses in astrophysics and became chairman of the University's Astronomical Society. For the past 10 years David has worked in the travel industry and, during that time, he has organised and led many astronomically themed tours. He has seen eight solar eclipses and spent many nights viewing spectacular displays of the Northern Lights from northern Iceland – one of his favourite places. David has travelled to over 60 countries on all seven continents, combining his love of wildlife and star-gazing: a recent trip to Indonesia to view a total solar eclipse provided some rewarding birdwatching on either side of the Wallace Line and a chance to observe a reintroduction programme for the Bali Myna. David works in our busy Operations Department, where he will be managing a portfolio of astronomical and wildlife tours to many destinations including one to witness a total solar eclipse in Chile in 2019.
Paul was one of the first members of staff to join the Naturetrek team. He graduated in Environmental Biology from Plymouth University in the summer of 1995 and, after travelling in South East Asia for the rest of that year, joined Naturetrek in January 1996. He now works as operations manager and lives in the small town of Greatham in the heart of the Hampshire South Downs with his wife Emma and two boys. Paul spends much of the year based in our Chawton office and looks after an ever-growing portfolio of Naturetrek holidays, ranging from a long weekend in the New Forest to three weeks in New Zealand. He is still let out occasionally, however, and leads a couple of tours a year. Paul's interest in birds developed at an early age and has since broadened into a love of all wildlife. He has travelled widely, having visited all seven continents, but still looks for any excuse to return to western Canada and the polar regions, his favourite destinations.
A love of the outdoors began at an early age for Kerrie, when the long school holidays were spent at her grandparents’ flat in Switzerland, walking (in summer) or sliding (in winter) through the mountains. Kerrie’s love of alpine flowers and mammals exists to this day, and her passion for wildlife and the environment led to a degree in Biology at Durham, followed by a Master’s in Sustainability. Degrees successfully gained, Kerrie took off for Madagascar where she spent three months working on a conservation project, chasing snakes, chameleons, butterflies, and lemurs through the forests (to identify them!), and eating enough beans and rice to last a lifetime. Here at Naturetrek Kerrie now looks after our tours to Madagascar, along with others across Europe and in west Africa, and eagerly ventures abroad whenever duty calls!
Julie was born in West Sussex and brought up in a farming family. Her childhood was very much spent close to nature and wildlife. Since then most of her working life has been spent in the travel industry, with a break to raise her family. Julie loves the outdoors and is especially fond of gardening and walking; however, music and singing are her particular passions. She has visited several European countries, most recently joining one of Naturetrek’s holidays to Finland, and she particularly enjoys the floral and cultural aspects of a place when travelling. After many years spent living in the north of England, Julie moved back south to Hampshire and joined the Naturetrek team in 2005 as an operations assistant. She arranges the flights for a very wide range of tours, including all those to northern and eastern Europe, Africa, central and South America and parts of Asia.
David was born in Meriden, Warwickshire but has lived most of his life in West London where he worked for the EMI music company in their Artist Royalties division before re-locating to Hampshire 5 years ago. An interest in birds began at an early age when he saw, the then, very rare Red Kite on a family holiday in Wales. The bird interest grew and has subsequently broadened to encompass all forms of wildlife and has been the prime motivator for extensive travel both in the UK and overseas to such places as Europe, Chile, New Zealand and Namibia but with a particular fascination for the Polar regions, North America and India. The first of these compliments his interest in early polar exploration which has included trips to see Amundsen's ship "Fram" in Oslo and Shackleton's open boat the "James Caird" as well as a landing on Shackleton's infamous Elephant Island. His ambition is to visit the Antarctic base huts of Shackleton and Scott! Nearer to home David's interest in photography has seen him travel around the UK photographing plants and insects and he is a very active member of various conservation bodies for plants and butterflies helping to preserve their remaining precious habitats.
Tom has been fascinated by wildlife and the natural world since childhood. At primary school he learnt all the British bird species, and he’s been watching and enjoying them ever since! Trips to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Slimbridge further fuelled his passion for birds and, when Tom’s family bought 10 acres of land, he created his very own nature reserve on it! After gaining a degree in Biology from Exeter University, Tom set off in search of some of the planet’s incredible wildlife, first travelling slowly around the world, and then returning to Australia. As well as seeing a wonderful variety of the world's birds on his travels, he also spent a lot of time beneath the surface of the ocean, scuba diving in Thailand, Australia and Fiji. Two of Tom's many highlights were getting close to mighty Bull Sharks and swimming alongside gigantic Whale Sharks. Since returning to the UK Tom has worked in school wildlife clubs and also worked at WWT Slimbridge. Having grown up in the Cotswolds, a lot of Tom’s spare time has been spent recording the birds and reptiles of this area’s commons and wetlands. He also travels in search of overseas wildlife as often as he can, and amongst the European destinations that Tom and his brother have explored have been Hungary, France, Spain, Holland and, most recently, snow-clad Poland in the depths of winter to focus on mammal-tracking. In his spare time, Tom enjoys various sports, and he plays regularly for a local football team.
Alison grew up in Aberdeen and, from an early age, enjoyed exploring new places, and doing outdoor activities. She was fascinated by nature as a child, and inspired to learn more about the natural world by Gerald Durrell’s books. During her BSc in Zoology at the University of Glasgow, Alison spent her summers working on various conservation projects; these included a 2-month stay in Ecuador studying hummingbirds, and four weeks in Indonesia monitoring bats, tarsiers and coral reef systems. Her travel experience also includes a 6-week trip to New Zealand which involved studying the natural history of country. Alison has worked as an outdoor pursuits instructor specialising in walks, canoeing and environmental education. Alison has a bird-ringing permit, and in her spare time she also finds time to enjoy reading, watching wildlife, cooking and photography … and has recently attended a nature photography course.
Lauren joined our busy team in 2016 after completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology at Newcastle University. Her dissertation investigated the diet of the Grey Seal in the North Sea, and involved a lot of scrambling around the Northumberland coastline in mist and rain searching for samples! As well as enjoying exploring new places, Lauren is passionate about conservation (particularly marine), and has taken part in a variety of projects including a 6-week stay on the Greek island of Samos, where she worked with a research team studying dolphins and seals in the Aegean Sea. Lauren volunteers on her local committee of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, leads her local Wildlife Explorers group for the RSPB, and takes part in bat and cetacean surveys. In her spare time she enjoys keeping fit, and travelling whenever possible.
Lara spent her childhood in Portugal, enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife that Lisbon’s Sintra-Cascais Natural Park had to offer. This early interest in nature led her to do a BSc in Biology at the University of Lisbon, and later an MSc in Biodiversity Genetics & Evolution in Oporto. For her Master’s degree thesis, Lara spent four months in the African savannah observing the behaviour of the Sociable Weaver, a Southern African endemic. She was surrounded daily by bee-eaters, Pygmy Falcons and Pale Chanting Goshawks amongst a host of other animals. Her studies completed, Lara then moved to the UK to take up a 2-year post working for the RSPB; this involved travelling to towns and villages in Hampshire and Berkshire attending various events, enthusing as many people as possible about protecting wildlife. In her spare time, Lara loves to cook; she also challenges herself to visit somewhere new at least once a week (mostly nature reserves, country parks and, when possible, other countries!).
Tim’s interest in travel was ignited when he went on his very first expedition, trekking through Iceland to study and photograph its wildlife and geology. Since then he has travelled all over the world, participating on scientific expeditions to Honduras, Borneo and Australia, and obtaining his degree in International Wildlife Biology at the University of Glamorgan, which led to and realising a childhood dream in studying to be and working as a safari guide in South Africa and Namibia. In his spare time, Tim volunteers for The Wildlife Trust, is an active member of the RSPB and enjoys wildlife photography, swimming and a variety of other sports. Tim’s thirst for travel continues to deepen and his current ambition is to go trekking in Nepal - however, his ‘bucket list’ seems to get longer with every passing month!
Linda has worked in the travel industry since 1996, joining Naturetrek in February 2008 after working for Travelbag, Ebookers and Lastminute.com. She feels it is a great job, not only because of the fantastic people she works with but because she loves the variety of wildlife trips that Naturetrek offers. Cheriton Mill is a beautiful place to work and there is never a dull day in the office. She always enjoys hearing about people’s previous trips and enjoys sharing her own travel experiences. She has travelled to Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Antigua, Barbados, Bahamas, St Lucia, Tobago, Switzerland, Germany and other parts of Europe. Her favourite country has to be Australia for its pure beauty and wildlife. She has travelled across the tablelands of Queensland, snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef and seen some amazing marine life and other wildlife there. As ticketing manager for Naturetrek, Linda maintains direct correspondence with such major airlines as British Airways, Air France and Emirates, booking and ticketing flights for Naturetrek clients. Linda lives in Alton with her husband, Richard, and has two grown-up sons and two grandsons.
Peter was born in Goole in the East Riding of Yorkshire and is a retired police sergeant with North Yorkshire Police, where he was wildlife liaison officer for 12 years. He has been a keen birder for over 49 years and organised the setting up and running of the Filey Brigg Bird Observatory on the Yorkshire Coast, where he lives close by and looks after the bird ringing. He is a full trainer for the bird ringing scheme in the UK. Peter has birded throughout most of England, Scotland and Wales, whilst overseas trips have included Spain, France, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Norway, the Balearic Islands, Morocco, Israel, South, Central and North America and the Caribbean. Peter's main interest is in Western Palaearctic species (and races) and he gives talks to local bird and natural history groups using his collection of wildlife photographs - another passion of his. Peter joined the staff of Naturetrek in 2011, responsible for the formatting of the tour reports and keeping tour checklists in order.
Realising at school that Spanish was easier to learn than French, Barney went onto develop a great interest in all things Iberian and Latino, after a gap year in South America teaching English in Paraguay and travelling to its neighbouring countries, including a week in the wilds of the Pantanal. He went on to read Latin American Studies at the University of Essex, spending a year in the Yucatan Peninsula, where he discovered just how amazing Mexico is! With a background of working for specialist tour operators he has been fortunate enough to have travelled to places such as Chile & Easter Island, Guatemala & Belize, Egypt, Syria and Oman. However, the most amazing travel experience was in Namibia, searching for the bountiful and wonderfully preserved rock art and spending time in Etosha National Park, with a Black Rhino lumbering out of the bush right in front of the vehicle. Just as happy laid on a sunbed reading a crime thriller, as hurtling down the slopes on a snowboard, he’s keen to reinvigorate his interest in natural history at Naturetrek, having grown up with many a day spent at an RSPB reserve. He performs a variety of roles including Private Groups and industry compliance.
David, the company’s managing director, began Naturetrek in 1986 with his wife, Maryanne. Although trained as a solicitor, David has always loved travel, mountains and wildlife. He has a wealth of experience in Europe, Australasia and Africa, and still more in India and the Himalayan countries, plus an extensive knowledge of their natural history. For two years he trekked independently through every region of the Himalaya, studying and photographing its wildlife. Since then he has written articles, contributed to books, and led and organised many treks there and in Africa. Other travels have taken him throughout South-east Asia and the Middle East. His interests focus on birds and mammals, and the history and culture of the Himalaya. He is also passionate about cricket, and has been a chairman, player (with his sons), supporter and Colts coach-manager at the Southern League club, Hambledon CC – the ‘Cradle of Cricket’. David lives nearby in a quiet corner of Hampshire, together with Maryanne and their sons, Thomas and Oliver.
Maryanne is a zoologist from Perth, Western Australia, who co-founded Naturetrek in 1986 with her English husband, David. Prior to her overseas travels she worked as an ecological consultant surveying the wildlife in some of the remote parts of Australia, including the Great Sandy Desert, Barrier Reef and central Australia. A keen walker, she has undertaken several extended backpacking expeditions through the wilderness regions of Tasmania and northern Australia, and was a member of the 1988 Royal Geographical Society's expedition to the remote Kimberley in north-western Australia where she studied the mammals. A keen photographer and writer, she has published articles in a number of walking and natural history magazines. Today, Maryanne, a director of Naturetrek, looks after the operation of all our tours to Australia and New Zealand as well as acting as the company’s responsible tourism officer. Like David and their sons, she is a keen cricket follower, supporting Hampshire, Australia, and Western Australia for whom her father played when she was growing up.
Andy cut his birding teeth in the YOC in primary school and later on coach trips run by his local RSPB group. Growing up with a love of mountains, sport, wildlife and adventure, he completed the Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride at 16 and went on to study Aquatic Biology at Aberystwyth. This led to work in fisheries consultancy for a year after graduation and then travel to south-east Peru (Tambopata) in 1996 to work as a guide in the Amazon rainforest. He followed this with a year in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Between guiding commitments, he took the opportunity to travel around the continent, studying the birds, wildlife, culture and Spanish language. He joined Naturetrek in 1998, initially to combine tour leading with work in our Operations Department. Nowadays, as General Manager, Andy remains heavily involved in product development and tour operations and still manages to lead the odd tour occasionally. However he’s equally likely to be found analysing customer feedback, strategising, and grappling with industry issues, HR and online marketing. Away from the world of wildlife travel, Andy has exchanged his football boots for running trainers, remains a keen but occasional cricketer, and is a lifelong supporter of Watford FC.
Katryn trained to join the Merchant Navy as a Radio Officer, but with the decline of the British shipping industry, globe-trotting was not on the cards so she went to work as an engineer for the BBC, travelling widely in England and Wales. After a little bit of self-reinvention she gained a maths degree from Reading University, and after bringing up her children entered the world of accounting, looking after a number of small businesses, before coming to NT. Katryn has a keen interest in wildlife, especially in plants as “they don’t move when you look at the book”. Katryn was involved for many years with her local woodland conservation group, undertaking activities such as coppicing, hedge laying, flora, mammal and bird surveys, charcoal burning and putting on moth and bat evenings. She lives in Hampshire with her family and enjoys bell ringing and gardening.
Technical & Media
Catherine did a degree in Zoology at Nottingham University which she followed with a Master’s in Behavioural Ecology – natural choices for someone with a lifelong passion for wildlife. She has always loved going pretty much anywhere (once, at least), but her first real travel adventure was backpacking across the world by land and sea from Tunbridge Wells to Tokyo – then back again. Since then she has visited many countries and among the destinations she’d most like to return to are the Arctic, Jordan and India. Catherine enjoys going in search of any wildlife, but is most happy at sea watching whales and dolphins … though she always seems to head straight into a force 9! A qualified journalist, Catherine worked in publishing for several years as an editor then freelance writer on a diverse range of journals including BBC Wildlife magazine. She joined Naturetrek in 2008 and currently takes care of a variety of different tasks including writing and editing web text, the e-news, newsletters and brochure, as well as managing a small number of tours.
Inspired by the countryside of County Durham in which she grew up, natural history documentaries, and such authors as Jack London, Sara developed a passion for wildlife at a young age. She went on to study Zoology at Newcastle University, also becoming president of the university’s Zoological Society. After graduating, she worked in British Columbia, Canada, as a wildlife rehabilitator caring for bears, Coyotes, otters and Raccoons on a daily basis. When she wasn’t providing medical care to injured wildlife she could be found hiking in the mountains, photographing wildlife and avoiding bears (usually successfully). On her return to the UK she moved to the Scottish Hebrides, where she spent three years working at sea as a wildlife guide. She also spent her summers as the Senior Wildlife Officer on a mini-cruise ship in the North Sea, surveying whales and dolphins and delivering evening lectures to guests. Always keen to be involved with media, Sara has presented on both live radio and TV, is regularly published in wildlife magazines and has worked as a guide for Ray Mears and TV film crews for several natural history documentaries. She now manages Naturetrek's website and social media activities and, outside work and wildlife, she enjoys running, writing and planning for her next backpacking adventure.