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New Trustees

Author:  Arboricultural Association
  05/12/2022
Last Updated:  05/12/2022

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Michelle Ryan, Alan Simson and Keith Sacre were re-elected at the AGM and this year we also welcome three new Trustees, Neil Davies, Rob Murison and Stella Bolam, all of whom will bring new skillsets and fresh perspectives to the Board. They introduce themselves below.

Stella, Neil and Rob join the Board of Trustees alongside re-elected Trustees Michelle, Alan and Keith, existing Trustees Alastair Durkin, Paul Barton and Steve Westmore, and our three co-opted Trustees, Andrew Longland (Treasurer), Liz Nicholls and Sarah Armstrong. Andrew, Liz and Sarah were formally co-opted during the Board meeting that took place after the AGM. In addition, Michelle Ryan was re-elected as Chair of the Association and Paul Barton was elected as Vice Chair.

Thank you to all members who took the time to stand for nomination and also those that took part in the Trustee election process. We would also like to thank our outgoing Trustees, Mike Sankus and Navin Sehmi, who have contributed so much of their time and effort to helping deliver the Association’s aims and vision.

Neil Davies

Neil Davies

I have worked with trees and woodlands in one form or another for 26 years. Like many, I came through an on-the-tools apprenticeship before working on the local authority tree team and then as a tree officer. In 2012 I made the leap into the private sector and worked my way up to be head of arboriculture and forestry for a national consultancy working on large infrastructure projects.

In 2021 I realised that my mental health and work–life balance were being impacted and I joined TR33 Ltd (ArbAC) to build their consultancy business. I am still involved in some very large projects but I now have more time and energy for smaller-scale and conservation-focused work. I’m passionate about mental health awareness, leadership not management, raising the profile of arboriculture and encouraging young people to be part of nature not apart from it.

Rob Murison

Rob Murison

I’m so pleased to have been elected as a Trustee of the Arboricultural Association. Having worked in the industry across many sectors for the past decade I have become increasingly passionate about the care and establishment of young trees and I hope to bring this area of expertise and passion to the table in my work within the Association.

My career started off in horticulture at the age of 16. After a year at Capel Manor, I went to Cambridge Botanic Gardens as a trainee and then onto the Crown Estate as a gardener. After I realised that I didn’t like weeding anymore my career in arboriculture began, first learning the ropes back at Capel before gaining my degree in arboriculture at Moulton College in Northampton. Since graduating I’ve had the pleasure of working both in the private and public sector as a professional arboriculturist – over five years in each.

My career has gravitated towards tree planting and young tree care, overseeing thousands of street trees planted in Cambridge as a tree officer working closely with residents, nurseries and contractors learning a huge amount along the way. After a brief stint at Transport for London I now find myself back working in the private sector as a consultant within an ARB Approved Contractor – Mercer Tree Services – where my primary focus is now on delivering planting projects for local authorities, commercial developments and private householders whilst also carrying out all of the usual duties of an arboricultural consultant.

Outside of work, I’m dad to two young lads, Sam (3) and Ben (1), who take up most of my time but if there is ever a spare moment I love to indulge in my passion for cycling, both riding and watching!

Stella Bolam

Stella Bolam

I feel very honoured to have been elected to the Board as a Trustee and am looking forward to working with my fellow Trustees over the next three years.

I’m a newcomer to arboriculture, having just reached a milestone of a year in my first role in the sector, working as a Community Forestry Project Development Officer at Sheffield City Council.

I made my decision to retrain and start a career working with trees two years ago (not far off my 50th birthday) and it was an Arb Association Women in Arb event which sparked my interest.

At the time I was an experienced freelance copywriter and digital marketing consultant and I’d also worked for over a decade as a journalist. I had a lightbulb moment really – I was tired of working inside, in front of laptops. I was so much happier outdoors, especially walking in woods, and I’ve always had a passion for trees. My childhood was spent in rural Essex, where I spent a lot of time in nature, climbing trees and watching wildlife.

I gained my Level 2 Certificate in Arb course last summer and was a voluntary street tree warden before I got my community forestry role. I’m studying for a Level 4 Diploma in Arboriculture now, which I fit around work. I don’t know where my path in arboriculture will take me next. I’m interested in expanding my knowledge of veteran and ancient trees, and I especially enjoy helping others to connect with trees and nature, because that is how my interest in trees started.

I’m so glad I decided to make the break and join the sector because it is such a vibrant one and everyone in it does such vital work.


This article was taken from Issue 199 Winter 2022 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.