Meet the Conservators

The Commons were created by an Act of Parliament in 1871 which provided for a Board of Conservators, more commonly known today as Trustees, to ensure that the area is kept “forever open and unenclosed and unbuilt on… [and preserved] for public and local use for purposes of exercise and recreation…”. The Conservators below are responsible for the protection and preservation of Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common.

 

Prue Whyte - Chairman (Elected)

Prue has lived on the edge of Putney Lower Common for over 30 years and, through walking her dog, knows our Commons well. She has a degree in biochemistry and an ongoing interest in biological sciences and the natural environment. Professionally, from an initial career as a scientist she moved into television production. Prue retired two years ago, but before that retrained and spent 20 years practising as a therapist in the field of mental health. She has served for many years on the board of her professional institution. She sees our Commons as a precious natural environment to be maintained, managed and enhanced for present and future generations. Prue recognises that our Commons are also about people: those who live and work on them; the many and varied users and those who, like her, are charged as Trustees with safeguarding them. She looks forward to bringing all her skills and experience to the Trusteeship of these open spaces.

  

Shirley Gillbe - Vice-Chairman (Elected)

Shirley is a Zoology graduate who has maintained a lifelong interest in ecology and the environment. Having spent 30 years working in healthcare delivery and health planning, she is now retired, allowing her time to indulge her passion for the Commons that she has used almost daily as a dog owner and resident of Putney for close to 40 years. As well as walking her Fox Terrier, she can often be found running and training on them too. She loves the fact that they provide access for all to safe open space whilst retaining their rural nature and is committed to ensuring that they remain unenclosed and protected from creeping commercialisation. A conservationist, gardener and allotmenteer, Shirley brings business skills, common sense and a commitment to the seven principles of public life to her role as a Conservator (Trustee). Shirley can be contacted on shirleygillbe@me.com

 

John Cameron (Elected)

John has lived next to Putney Common for 30 years and believes that the Commons are a priceless asset to the communities they serve. He regards the Conservators’ lack of rigour in protecting Putney Common as a fundamental failure, as are the recent criticisms of the governance of the charity. The charity’s Trustees must be both committed and motivated, prepared to put in sufficient effort, to work diligently and to act lawfully. Having decided to stand as a candidate in the 2015 elections, John was proud to have been elected a Commons Conservator by Wimbledon, Kingston and Putney residents. He believes that the 1,140 acres of Commons are under greater threat today than at any time since 1871. It is the responsibility of Conservators to work effectively, to ensure that these valuable green spaces are managed to high standards, to ensure their preservation for current and future generations. John is strongly opposed to any further commercial development of the commons, no matter how insignificant they may appear and will fulfil his pledge to keep the Commons natural, uninclosed and unencroached. 

 

Keith Luck (Elected)

Keith loves this unique, historical landscape and will ensure it remains under independent, local control for current and future generations. Before moving to Wimbledon, he and his family would often visit the Commons. Today he runs across them almost every day.

The challenge of balancing the habitat with recreational usage (formal and informal); of preserving and conserving the landscape is what motivates him. The 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act provides the framework for the Conservators’ unique management approach, onto which the Charities Act adds Trustee roles. The recent Governance Review set in motion a number of changes and Keith is honoured to be part of the Board that must help steer these into place. 

Knowing the arrangements the Review aims to introduce, Keith will draw on a range of relevant experiences from his professional career will lead the Board as it implements the recommendations and secures the Commons’ long term survival. 

 

Sir Ian Andrews - Appointed by the Secretary of State for Defence

Sir Ian Andrews is also a resident of Wimbledon and regularly enjoys walks on the Commons with his family. Ian retired in 2009 after more than thirty years with the Ministry of Defence and from his most recent role as the Second Permanent Secretary. During his three decades with the MOD, Ian has held the title of Chief Executive of the Defence Estates Agency where he was responsible for the custodianship and management of all defence, land and property, including many sensitive areas of lowland heath similar to the Commons. He has also championed sustainable development across Whitehall.

 

Derek Frampton - Appointed by the Home Secretary

Derek has lived near Wimbledon Common for a quarter of a century. He has been a local magistrate since 1981 and is the Chairman of the Residents' Association of West Wimbledon (RAWW). Since its inception in 2006 he has chaired the Village Ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel, and is a member of the Wimbledon Society. As a child he cycled across the Hampshire Downs, chalk streams and New Forest in search of birds and butterflies, igniting his lifelong love of nature. Now, having retired as deputy principal of a large, inner-London college after a career in education, he and his wife are regular explorers of the Commons. As a Conservator appointed in 2009 he hopes to contribute to strengthening the biodiversity of the Commons, protecting their flora and fauna for the benefit of all.

 

Dr Ros Taylor - Appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment

Ros taught at Kingston University for almost four decades, as a lecturer in ecology and conservation and was course leader for environmental and sustainability degree programmes. Her role involved many visits to Wimbledon and Putney Commons, bringing volunteer groups for heathland management, running field classes and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation studies on a range of ecological issues. As a long-term Surrey resident she has extensive knowledge of Surrey and London's open space areas; their geology, land-use history and present day uses. Latterly, she championed the development of Kingston University's engagement with sustainability, leading to the establishment of the University's Sustainability Hub. Ros has had several of her works published and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's environmental discussion programme, Home Planet. She has now retired from full-time work, but retains links with the university and continues to undertake some writing and teaching activities.