SERT appoints five new Trustees including chair

A former senior partner in a major multinational environment consultancy, Steve Laking, has been appointed as the new Chair of Trustees at the South East Rivers Trust. He is one of five new Board members.

Steve has worked in the environment and water consulting sector for 35 years, including holding a number of executive roles as a senior partner at ERM, the world’s largest pure sustainability consultancy and, more recently, at Ramboll Environment and Health, where he served as the Divisional President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Steve Laking
Steve Laking, the new Chair of the Board of the South East Rivers Trust

Steve has conducted projects in groundwater resources and quality in the UK and abroad. His first was on the Channel Tunnel, determining the origin of groundwater inflows in the early phases of construction.

More recently, he has been motivated to “give something back” and qualified as a geography teacher. Additionally, he is also responsible for a small Trust, supporting the education and welfare of children in an orphanage in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Steve says: “I am honoured and delighted to have been appointed as the Chair of the South East Rivers Trust.  I recognise the amazing work that the Trust does across the region in addressing the crisis that our river ecosystems are currently facing.  The scale of the responsibility is significant globally; with 82% of the world’s chalk river ecosystems lying within our footprint, we have a major responsibility to restore and sustain the vibrancy and diversity of our rivers.

“I am excited about working with the Trust for a number of reasons, not least the opportunity to work with a fantastic and committed team – and the chance to make an even bigger difference to our river catchments in the south east.  I am confident that we will rise to the challenge.”

New Board members have a wide range of skills

Joining Steve on the Board are four other new colleagues: Jennifer Collins, Jeff Andrews, Michael Parker and Victoria Finney, who bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience.

Jenny Collins - Trustee
Jenny Collins

Jenny Collins is a Principal Geomorphologist in the Sustainable Water Management Team at WSP, one of the world’s leading engineering professional services firms. Her team specialises in river restoration, biodiversity net gain (BNG), sustainable sediment management, catchment management and the Water Framework Directive (WFD). She has a particular interest in delivering river enhancements and working with natural processes.

Jenny, who has a PhD in river restoration monitoring, has experience of identifying and assessing environmental impacts on the water environment and designing appropriate mitigation or environmental enhancements where required.

Jenny has been proactively working in partnership with other consultants to develop national Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) training on the implementation of the rivers and streams metric for BNG. She has been exploring the credit process with rivers trusts and is keen to help SERT to maximise the benefit from BNG funding sources.

Jenny says: “I am genuinely excited to be joining the Board of SERT and to be working with their brilliant team. I applied to join the Board because I was inspired by the fantastic benefits that they deliver for our rivers and catchments. I can’t wait to be a part of it!”

Wandle and Thames connections inspire desire to help

Jeff Andrews - Trustee
Jeff Andrews

Local interest drew asset manager Jeff Andrews to apply to join the SERT Board.

Jeff says: “I am honoured to join the SERT Board after living next to the River Wandle for more than 20 years and having followed the progress and even participated in the extraordinary projects of the Trust.

“I hope to be able to bring my strategic planning, project management and operations management skills to bear to help SERT prosper.”

Jeff has more than 25 years’ experience in the asset management and technology sector (including NASA) and applies the strategic planning, operations and project management, technology and people skills gained to help organisations prosper.


Michael Parker
Michael Parker

Michael Parker, a retired solicitor at a law firm in central London, has spent a decade as a trustee of a disability charity in Kingston, including a spell as Company Secretary.

Michael has lived beside the River Thames for nearly 30 years and is “acutely conscious” of the value and beauty of our rivers and the need for organisations such as SERT to preserve, protect and enhance them now and in the future.

Michael says: “I am honoured and excited to join the Board of the South East Rivers Trust at a time when the health of the nation’s rivers is both at risk and in the public eye as never before.

“I believe the work that all rivers trusts carry out is vital to the future of the environment and needs to be supported in any way we can.

“The coming years are critical to their future and I am happy to do anything I can to assist.”

Victoria Finney - Trustee
Victoria Finney

Victoria Finney works as a consultant providing advice to CEOs, Boards and executive teams on governance, strategy and organisational change, as well as leading board evaluations.  She has a background in strategy, analysis and governance and has worked for more than 20 years at the centre of major public service and private organisations as well as charities in chief of staff and company secretary roles.

Victoria says: “Improving the health of our rivers is critical and I am delighted to be joining SERT and bringing my experience of working with charity boards and management teams to support this vital work.”

The new appointments bring the number of SERT Trustees to 10. The other Board members are: Dave Brown (vice-chair), Alex Dawtrey, Gideon Reeve, Michael Doble and Martin Hurst.