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.

  • Edwina Parker

    Vice Chair

    Edwina, a music graduate, started her career with the Open University before working for one of England’s regional arts development agencies, latterly as Deputy Director. She set up her own consultancy in 1991 and worked across a wide range of public, private and not-for-profit organisations on management and organisational development projects including work as an Accredited Executive Coach. Alongside her professional roles, she worked as a Magistrate for 24 years and as a charity trustee with three arts organisations.

    Edwina joined the board in 2017 bringing her expertise in governance and management development to the team. She has been a garden Life Friend for some years, enjoying the garden’s sheer beauty and sense of calm, as well as picking up ideas for her own garden and allotment in Beverley.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Claire Lawton

    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.

  • Dr Jeffrie Strang

    Jeffrie qualified in Medicine at Glasgow University, followed by a Masters at the Harvard School of Public Health and, after a period in clinical and academic posts, including 10 years as a GP in the North of England, he spent 16 years in North Yorkshire first as a heath authority consultant in public health and latterly as the Executive Director of Public Health and Medical Director for a Primary Care Trust.

    Becoming a trustee in 2018, Jeffrie is particularly keen to use his experience to drive further development of the garden’s therapeutic horticulture for adults needing support to improve their mental, physical and emotion wellbeing. He’s also interested in developing more sustainable ways of working to help in further limiting the garden’s impact on the environment.