Our board of trustees

  • Nick Holroyd


    Nick is a retired solicitor and a former partner with a national and international law practice in Manchester. Since his retirement Nick has worked voluntarily and was a trustee and board member for a large trust dealing with alcohol addiction providing assistance to suffering alcoholics and is also a local councillor and recently appointed Mayor of Kirkbymoorside.

    Nick joined the board in 2019 having developed an interest in gardening. He is a great supporter of the garden and is enthused by the history of the garden and its ethos and aims.

  • Claire Lawton

    Vice chair

    Claire is a Practicing Chartered Accountant with over 35 years’ experience in the profession. Her work includes charitable clients along with several varied trustee roles over the past 15 years and brings to the Trustee role at the Garden practical experience of charities both as an auditor and as a trustee.

    Claire takes great pleasure in gardens and gardening and has been a member of the RHS for many years. A childhood on a working dairy farm also brings with it an embedded love of the countryside and the impact that green spaces and gardens have on an individual’s well-being. Being able to work with the Trustees to develop this impact further and widen the reach and access to the Garden is something she is passionate about.

  • Andy Roberts

    Andy became a Trustee in 2023, welcoming the opportunity to put something back into the community in which he lives. He returned to his native Yorkshire after retirement from a career primarily in local government but with spells in the civil service and also working privately. He has had a lifelong interest in gardens and gardening and is looking forward to helping the Walled Garden flourish

  • David Brewster

    David started his career managing a number of nature reserves around the country before joining the Broads Authority shortly after the National Park was established. In 1991 he moved  north to become the Head of Park Services at the North York Moors National Park. A career change followed, after 10 years in that post, when he became the Chief Officer of Ryedale Special Families, a charity supporting families of children with disabilities.

    He brings with him experience in fund raising, charity governance and volunteer management. Since retiring he has retained close links with the voluntary sector in Ryedale and relishes the opportunity to ensure the sector and particularly the Walled Garden are able to realise the potential for local people through Social Prescribing.

  • Estelle Hook

    Ellie is the Manager of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has spent her career looking after our beautiful protected landscapes and in environmental consultancy.

    As a Helmsley resident, the Walled Garden is a much-loved part of her life and she regularly visits to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity. She loves seeing how it changes across the seasons, and gaining inspiration (and new plants!) for her own garden.


  • John Batty

    John is the Group Chief Financial Officer for a Leeds-based commercial property developer, St James Securities Group Limited and has worked for the company for over 30 years. He has gained wide ranging financial and property experience in all areas of property development from building new offices, retail parks and residential buildings to renovating listed buildings and mills.

    From personal experience, John has found gardening to be invaluable to his well-being, finding it particularly beneficial in difficult times of his life. He wholeheartedly shares the vision of the charity in providing a space for therapeutic horticultural.

  • Nicola Saunders

    Nicola has spent more than 25 years working in the Creative Industries. Prior to joining the Arts Council she was the Head of Publishing, Rights & Images at the National Portrait Gallery London. Nicola is now Director of Business Innovation & Environmental Responsibility at Arts Council England. Before moving into the public sector Nicola spent 17 years working in rights and licensing at Penguin Children’s Books working on iconic brands such as Peter Rabbit, Spot and Ladybird.

    Nicola and her husband moved to Yorkshire in Summer 2021 and live in Kirkbymoorside. They are keen gardeners and chicken keepers. Having visited Helmsley Walled Garden many times over recent years, Nicola is very proud to have become a trustee.


  • Stephen Barstow

    Stephen began volunteering at the garden in 2015. He quickly found his niche working on maintaining buildings and infrastructure in the garden although he has now been persuaded to do some gardening.

    He’s kept a weekly diary on Facebook, chronicling the work of the volunteers each week since 2016 and providing a valuable record of the work done to maintain and develop the garden.

    Stephen became a trustee in 2019 and provides an insight into the volunteers perspective to the board. He hopes his working knowledge of the garden, its buildings and  volunteers will help in the future of the charity.

  • Valerie Aston

    Valerie is a Director at a local Independent Multiple Retailer and has 42 years of skills and experience in the FMCG industry.

    Her commercial experience includes sourcing, forecasting and reacting to consumer trends, building ranges and categories while analysing sales, stock, margin and profit, working together with National and Regional Suppliers.

    A recent Graduate of a Trustee Leadership Programme, Valerie successfully join the Board of Trustees of Making A Difference Locally, a National Charity which helps independently run stores support their local communities.

    Growing up, Valerie enjoyed being in her father’s shadow in the garden and this is where her love of gardening and gardens started. She love’s being out and about in our wonderful Yorkshire Countryside, is a member of the RHS, and is regularly visiting and photographing Historic Houses, their estates and Walled Gardens. Working with the Trustee’s and team at Helmsley Walled garden to support and develop the potential commercial opportunities, while respecting the history, peace and tranquillity of the garden and surrounding area, is something she is interested in.