Patricia is an environmental/cultural-landscape researcher, writer and academic (Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh) and an award-winning artist-photographer whose powerful, boundary-crossing environmental aerial imagery is commissioned, exhibited and published, and held in public and private collections, internationally in both fine-art and editorial contexts. She has authored/co-authored more than ten books and her work is widely discussed in other publications. She also has considerable experience in the museum/gallery and natural-heritage sectors, both as a staff member and at board level (Main Board and Scientific Advisory Committee, Scottish Natural Heritage; Trustee, John Muir Trust; Board Member, Stills Gallery).
Chairman – John Thomson MA MSc FRSA
John studied history at Cambridge and economics at Bristol University. His long-standing interest in the environment and rural life took him from an early career in HM Treasury to senior posts in the Planning Inspectorate of the Department of the Environment and the Countryside Commission (England & Wales). After a spell as Head of the Town & Country Planning Policy Division in the then Scottish Office, he spent almost twenty years as a Director in Scottish Natural Heritage, leading its work in the fields of landscape, land and freshwater use, and planning and development. For much of this time he also led on recreation and access issues and oversaw SNH’s operations in the west of Scotland. He was for several years chair of the UK Countryside Recreation Network and the UK environmental agencies’ Land Use Policy Group. He also served as a Council member of Europarc, the Europe-wide network of National and Nature Parks. He is also Hon.Sec.(and a trustee) of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks. He and his wife also run a small farm near Kirkcudbright, breeding and rearing black Galloway cattle. John is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Vice-Chair – Rebecca Hughes BSc MPhil CMLI FLI
Rebecca is a Chartered Landscape Architect who has worked as a landscape and environmental consultant and botanist across the UK and abroad. She spent 14 years as Head of Landscape and Restoration at Scottish Natural Heritage, leading its national landscape team and landscape character assessment programme. She acted as landscape expert witness for various public inquiries, including the proposed Harris superquarry. She graduated from Durham University in Botany and Geography and from Newcastle University in Landscape Design. She worked for The National Trust in Northumberland, the Lake District National Park and the Nature Conservancy Council, then set up a landscape consultancy, forestry and furniture making business in the Borders. She spent five years as Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design at Newcastle University. She has developed landscape and visual impact assessment methodology for various developments including the renewable energy industry, and has recently worked on biodiversity management planning and landscape restoration both in the UK and New Zealand.
Treasurer – Kenny Graham
Kenny grew up in Forres on the Moray coast before moving to Edinburgh to study Mathematics at university. Following university he studied for and completed professional exams to become a Chartered Accountant. After spending around five years as an auditor where he had clients across a wide variety of sectors, including education, agriculture and port authorities, he began working in commercial banking. In his spare time Kenny enjoys writing and is a keen tennis fan, having travelled to visit several tournaments around the world, including trips to Paris and New York.
Member – Judy Crabb
Although a qualified Town Planner by profession, Judy has for over 30 years worked in the Voluntary and Community sector for a number of charities over addressing isolation and loneliness as well as planning issues. She was Vice Chair of the Shropshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Retiring to live in Edinburgh in 2016, Judy still supports CPRE by facilitating sessions on developing forward planning for CPRE Branches. She is now a trustee of the Heart of Newhaven and a member of Trinity Community Council.
Member – John Esslemont BSc MPhil PG Dip UPA MRTPI
John grew up in rural Aberdeenshire and Angus before attaining a geography degree at Aberdeen University and a post graduate degree in regional planning at Glasgow University. He spent almost 40 years in local government as a strategic planner in the West of Scotland actively involved in strategic land use policy development within the Strathclyde area and latterly within Ayrshire where he managed the Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit.
John is a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and a past convener of RTPI Scotland. He is married and lives in Rutherglen. He enjoys hill walking and skiing.
Member – Duncan Campbell BSc Dip.LD MICFOR MILA
Duncan’s early childhood was spent abroad in Burma and South Africa. He completed his education in Britain at Edinburgh University and later at Newcastle University. He is a Chartered Forester and a Chartered Landscape Architect (now retired in both disciplines). After National Army Service, spent mainly in Germany, he joined the Forestry Commission (FC) in 1960 as a Forest District Officer, managing national forests in several scenic parts of England. With his Landscape Architect qualification, Duncan became the FC’s first Forester/Landscape Architect and assisted Dame Sylvia Crowe, the FC’s eminent Landscape Consultant, with a brief to improve the design of national forestry activities throughout Britain. Duncan eventually became the FC’s Head of Design and Environmental Policy. He joined the Countryside Commission for Scotland (CCS) as Director in 1988 and later transferred to the senior management team of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), when the government merged CCS with the Nature Conservancy for Scotland (NCCS) in 1992. On retirement, Duncan has continued working in the environmental field, as a Director, Trustee and member of a number of Charities.
Member – Catherine Gemmell-Simpson
Catherine was brought up in Forres along the beautiful Moray coast before heading to Aberdeen to study Marine and Coastal Resource Management at Aberdeen University. Since then she has worked with young people as a field studies instructor in Dorset and a visitor services supervisor at an aquarium. She is currently the Scotland Conservation Officer for the Marine Conservation Society based out of Edinburgh with plenty of time spent on many of Scotland’s beautiful beaches. When not at the coast Catherines favourite spot is the shores of Loch Morlich in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.
Member – Victoria Presly
Victoria grew up in the countryside of Aberdeenshire before heading to Aberdeen University to study Law. An avid long-distance trail runner, she spends most of her free time running around Scotland’s beautiful landscape with her two springer spaniels. Trail running has allowed Victoria to experience some of Scotland’s wildest and remotest trails, and as result she has a keen interest in APRS’s Scottish National Parks Strategy Project. She currently works as a lawyer in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen.
In the Office
Director – John Mayhew MA MSc DipTP MRTPI
John is a Chartered Town Planner, landscape manager and geographer. As well as APRS Director he is an environmental policy and planning consultant. Brought up in Birmingham, he has spent his entire professional life in Scotland. Before moving to APRS he spent 23 years working for the National Trust for Scotland, latterly as Head of Policy and Planning, and chaired Scottish Environment LINK 2006-09. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two sons, and enjoys cycling, telemark skiing, hillwalking and playing the piano. John is also currently the President of the Scotttish Countryside Rangers Association.
Nikki Sinclair – Green Belts Alliance Manager/National Parks Strategy Project Manager
Nikki has degrees in Ecological Science and Plant Taxonomy and Biodiversity from Edinburgh University. She worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh before joining the National Trust for Scotland, firstly as a property management planner and then as part of the policy team. Nikki works one day a week managing the APRS Green Belts Alliance Project and does other environmental policy work on a consultancy basis. In March 2022 she took over the role of managing the joint APRS/SCNP Scottish National Parks Strategy Project.
Joanna McFarlane – Community Engagement and Education Manager
Joanna has degrees in Biology and German and Wildlife Management and Conservation and has worked in environmental education with children and the public in schools and communities for over 25 years. She has also worked for 5 years in individuals fundraising as RSPB Scotland’s Membership Manager. Born in Cornwall, she now lives in Fife with her family and enjoys all things wildlife, marine, exploring Scotland and running her local coastal voluntary nature conservation group.
Nina Sobecka – Administrator
Nina’s role as APRS Administrator covers a wide range of tasks supporting office administration, membership, governance, projects, communications and fundraising. She has worked for many years in the environmental field including over 10 years at the National Trust for Scotland. She particularly enjoys the outdoors and walking in the Scottish hills.
Eleanor Young – Volunteer
Eleanor is Edinburgh born and bred. She joined APRS as a volunteer after many years working as an IT developer in a large Edinburgh based company. She looks after the website and enjoys playing golf, walking, gardening and participates in many community based activities.