The following organisations and individuals are the current Members of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust:

The Trustees
The Forest Volunteers
The Forest Team
Bedford Borough Council
Central Bedfordshire Council
The Association of Town and Parish Councils
Beds Rural Community Charity
Hanson Building Products Ltd
The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough Wildlife Trust

About our Trustees

Debra Hassell - Trustee (Chairman)

Debra worked for Hanson Building Products for 21 years as their Estates Manager dealing with their many landholdings in the UK, and latterly as the Property Development Manager, the majority of which was based from Stewartby, until the closure of the Stewartby office in December 2009. She now works part time as a Care Support Worker for Leonard Cheshire Disability. She is also a Trustee and Bursar for The Sir Malcolm Stewart Bart General Charitable Trust which provides accommodation for retired London Brick employees. Her family have a long association with the Marston Vale and she has always lived here, attending both Stewartby schools and Wootton Upper. She has been actively involved in the Forest of Marston Vale for many years and currently chairs the Forest of Marston Vale Trust, having taken over from Fiona Chapman in early 2012.

Stewart Briggs - Trustee

Stewart is a Bedford resident and has, on and off, spent over 30 years in the area. He is happily married to Laura and has two ‘grown up’ children. He enjoys pottering in his garden, having a go at DIY, walking in the countryside and visiting historic buildings and gardens. He is currently Executive Director Environment & Sustainable Communities at Bedford Borough Council.

Nigel Davis – Volunteer Trustee

Nigel has lived in the Bedford area since 1992. He worked in the safety engineering industry for 44 years, mainly working for public authorities. In 1988 he was appointed Fire Surveyor to Royal Mail with responsibility for fire compliance in over 2500 properties and he has served on many specialist fire committees with organisations such as the British Retail Consortium and the Building Research Establishment. In 2004 he was appointed as a fire engineering team leader with WS Atkins (WSA) on the London Underground upgrades and latterly Network Rail projects.  Whilst with WSA he led the development of a fire standards framework that could be applied to rail projects nationally. After retiring in 2009, he became a Forest Volunteer and has enjoyed learning new skills such as hedging, and fence repairing, taking a particular interest in the Grange Estate, Willington. He lives in nearby Renhold where he and his wife have a largish garden to manage where he puts his practical DIY skills to the test on a regular basis.

Peter Faulkner - Trustee

Peter was born in Marston Moretaine in 1951 and has lived here all his life. He has two grown up children (Vanessa and Stuart) and four grandchildren. He started work for London Brick Company Ltd as a Despatch Clerk when he was 15 and then gained a professional accountancy qualification (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) through day release, being promoted to Finance Director UK of Hanson Brick Ltd in 1999. He was subsequently appointed Financial Controller of Hanson Building Materials Europe. He left Hanson in 2003 but continued to work for them as an Interim Financial Manager from time to time, until 2009. He has been a Trustee since 1999. In his spare time he enjoys walking, reading, holidays and spending time with his grandchildren.

Gordon Johnston - Trustee

Gordon is married to Anne and has two grown up sons - Stuart and Robert. He retired early from his post as Deputy Chief Executive with Bedford Borough Council in 2009 and since then has concentrated his time and energies on his voluntary/community work. As well as his long standing commitment to the Forest of Marston Vale Trust, he is also the Chairman of a large Housing Association. When he has time to himself, his other interests include reading, music, theatre, and television, DIY and watching most sports.

Bob Wallace – Trustee

Bob retired from Cranfield University in 1998 after working there for 25 years as the Chairman and Managing Director of Cranfield Data Systems and has since been involved in voluntary roles in the environmental and community sectors. He has been a Parish Councillor in Wootton since 1999 (Chairman for 4 years) and is a member of the Executive committee of the Bedfordshire Association of Town and Parish Councils. In 2004 he was invited to become a Community Governor of Wootton Upper School and, more recently, a Foundation Governor and Member of Wootton Academy Trust. He has always had a strong interest in the Rights of Way network and countryside access and in 2002 was appointed the inaugural chairman of the Bedfordshire Local Access Forum, a statutory body dedicated to providing advice to the Local Authority and other organisations on access to the countryside. Currently, he is the chairman of the Bedford Borough LAF. He has been a supporter and volunteer at the Forest of Marston Vale since the late 90′s and was instrumental in the creation of letsgo.org.uk which describes over 250 walks, rides and places to go in Bedfordshire. He has been a trustee of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust since 2000. He enjoys cycling, walking and travelling.

John Thelwall – Trustee

Until April 2015, John was a solicitor in practice in Bedford but he has now retired. John specialised in commercial property and company law for many years and was the lead solicitor for the Trust from the time it was established until his retirement. He therefore comes with a great deal of background knowledge about the property holdings of the trust and its legal framework. John has considerable experience as a charity trustee, being the chair of two other trusts and a trustee of another. During his career he acted for a number of charities in regard to their property and other legal matters. A keen golfer, John also enjoys music, theatre and reading.

Gareth Ellis – Trustee

Gareth is both a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Environmentalist with 35 years’ experience of working on sustainability in the public, voluntary and private sectors. He graduated from Cranfield University with a degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1980 before joining the Ministry of Agriculture’s agricultural advisory service ADAS, becoming National Specialist on Renewable Energy in the early 1990’s. He went on to head up renewable energy projects for the National Energy Foundation setting up an advice centre for householders and developing a school engagement programme. He also developed services for renewable energy trade bodies covering biomass, solar and heat pumps and held the role of Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association. In 2006 he left to join an energy and environmental consultancy before joining Cranfield University in 2008 as their energy manager with the challenging brief to reduce the University’s carbon footprint by 50% by 2020. In 2011 he took on the role of Energy & Environment Manager to lead the delivery of additional similarly challenging targets for waste, water, biodiversity, transport and other aspects of sustainability for the University estate. Gareth is currently a Parish Councillor and a Trustee for the local school academy where he lives. He has lived in Bedfordshire for 30 years.

Norman Costin – Trustee

Councillor Norman Costin was elected to South Bedfordshire District Council in 1976, when the combined Local Rural Councils were created and continued until the cessation of the Council on the creation of Central Bedfordshire Council - continuing as Councillor for Toddington Ward. Norman was born into generations of Bedfordshire farmers’ on the family farm at Wingfield and still supports the family business. Norman is happily married to Olive and they have three grown up sons who are successful in their chosen careers and sporting ventures. Norman and Olive have recently made their home in Marston Moretaine. He has been involved in Health Support for forty years, having sat on the Board of Heartlands Primary Care Trust, Luton and Dunstable Hospital and Papworth Hospital. He has been a member Chairman of the Buckingham and Ouzel Drainage Board and Vice Chairman of Eastern Area Drainage Authority.

Rod Calvert OBE – Trustee

Rod has lived in Bedford since 1968 with several periods of work abroad and worked in the Marston Vale from 1970 at Millbrook Proving Ground developing it into an independent company from 1988 as Managing Director. Now retired from this role but with over 40 years in senior global management roles in the motor industry, Rod’s work was nationally recognised in 2008 with the award of an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List and was ordained at Buckingham Palace in 2009. Rod has been involved with the Forest from its inception and has always been a keen supporter of the Charity. Currently non-exec director and chairman in the commercial world and President of the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, he brings his wide management experience to the board to help guide the Trust in delivering on its objectives.

Honorary Life President – Fiona Chapman

Role and responsibilities of Trustees of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust

Trustees of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust commit themselves to upholding the values and objectives of the Trust. Trustees are bound by an overriding duty, individually and as a Board, to act reasonably at all times in the interests of the Organisation and of its present and future beneficiaries and stakeholders.  Each and every Trustee must act personally, and not as the representative of any group or organisation; this applies regardless of how they were nominated, elected or selected to become a Trustee. The responsibilities of Trustees include:

  • Ensuring that the Trust’s activities are in compliance with the Charity’s objects as defined in the Memorandum of Association.
  • Attending a significant majority of Board meeting and Annual General Meetings.
  • Participating in Board and Annual General Meetings of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust in such a way as to ensure the efficient conduct of business.
  • Contributing their expertise and experience to the debate and discussion at Trustees’ meetings.
  • Supporting all majority decisions taken by all quorate Board meetings.
  • Ensuring that the Organisation’s vision, mission, values and activities remain true to the Trust’s objects.
  • Ensuring that the Trust remains independent and does not come under the control of any external organisation or individual.
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of the Board and its members at least every two years and working with fellow- Trustees and the Chairman to correct any areas where the Board is not complying sufficiently with the Code of Good Governance.
  • Declaring any material conflicts of interest and not participating in discussions or votes where they have a conflict of interest.
  • Ensuring that the Organisation has sufficient resources to cover its liabilities and planned activities, taking steps to fill any shortfalls.
  • Ensuring compliance with legislation regarding staff, volunteers and other stakeholders (for example Health and Safety and employment legislation) and ensuring that the Organisation is a good employer.
  • Ensuring that money given to the Trust is used for the precise purpose for which it was given

Role and responsibilities of the Chairman of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust

The role of the Chairman is to lead the Board of Trustees, ensuring that it fulfils its responsibilities for the governance of the organisation. The responsibilities of the Chair include:

  • Ensuring that the Trust’s activities are in compliance with the Charity’s objects as defined in the Memorandum of Association.
  • Setting Board meeting and Annual General Meeting dates and agendas in consultation with other Board members.
  • Chairing all Board and Annual General Meetings of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust in such a way as to ensure the efficient conduct of business.
  • Ensuring that meetings of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust are quorate (as defined in the Articles of Association of the Marston Vale Trust) where decisions are to be taken.
  • Ensuring that the organisation’s business is efficiently and accountably conducted between Board meetings.
  • Monitoring progress by the Organisation in implementing decisions taken at Board and Annual General Meetings.
  • Ensuring that the employment of the Chief Executive complies with employment legislation and good practice and that the appraisal and remuneration of the Chief Executive is conducted in accordance with the Code of Good Governance.
  • Representing the organisation at functions and meetings, and acting as a spokesperson as appropriate.
  • Sitting on appointment, disciplinary and grievance panels where the Chairman considers it necessary or desirable or where policy so requires.

Marston Vale Services Ltd. trading as The Forest Centre

Marston Vale Services Ltd trading as the Forest Centre (hereafter referred to as the Forest Centre) is the wholly-owned trading subsidiary of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust.  All of the profits from The Forest Centre are donated to the parent charity and these cover approximately half of the Trust’s operating costs.  As a social enterprise, the Forest Centre in Marston Moretaine generates revenue from conferencing, catering, shop sales and other commercial activities.

The Directors of Marston Vale Services Ltd. are:

Debra Hassall (Chairman)

Biography above

Nick Webb (Managing Director and the Trusts’ Company Secretary)

Nick graduated from Brighton University with a BA hons in International Management and after a short spell as a recruitment consultant, founded an adventure sports company in 1997. With a keen interest in adventure sports, he took groups paragliding, skiing, gorge walking, abseiling, motor cross riding and rallying cars; a great way to run a business and have fun at the same time! Selling the business on in a trade sale after ten years was a difficult decision, but a chance to move on to new challenges and allowed much needed time with his young family. Nick then took the position of Chief Executive at a newly created children and young people’s support charity and over the next 3 and a half years grew the organisation to be at the forefront of development and training in Hertfordshire. Being an environmentally minded person who enjoys spending time outdoors, it was therefore a natural progression and a great opportunity to take over the role of CEO at the Forest of Marston Vale Trust in 2012. Nick lives in the Hertfordshire, near the border with Bedfordshire, with his wife Kari and their three young children.


For more information on the Trust, call 01234 767037 or email us.