The Connecting the Culm project is part of Co-Adapt, an international programme working with partners in France, Belgium and the Netherlands to test ways of making river catchments more resilient to the impacts of climate change (mainly flooding and drought), using nature-based solutions and collaborating with people living in the area to do so. Co-Adapt is part-funded by the European Union’s Interreg 2 Seas programme.

The project is managed by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (where the River Culm rises) and the organisation provides a range of support roles including senior management, finance, administration and communications.

The Westcountry Rivers Trust is commissioned to deliver several other key roles in the project including stakeholder engagement, nature-based solutions technical advice to landowners and managers, evidence and research, and monitoring and evaluation.

The Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, hosted by Devon Wildlife Trust, is commissioned to carry out biodiversity surveys and bring their extensive records to bear on our developing plans.

Further independent consultants are employed to carry out specialist tasks.

Westcountry Rivers Trust logo

Finally, the project is overseen by a Steering Group, representing the organisations funding the project or providing in-kind support.

Dominic Acland
Dominic AclandPartnership Support
Dominic’s role is to support the development of the Blueprint and the process of engaging people with it, especially organisations and community groups.

Dominic’s background is in countryside management and connecting people with nature. He specialises in project development, community-based enterprises and fundraising for social and environmental purposes.

Sarah Ward
Sarah WardCo-Creation Specialist
Sarah will be undertaking community engagement and co-creation, providing technical input, sharing knowledge, organising events, doing social media/comms activities, supporting Connecting the Culm co-creation activities (Blueprint, Nature-based Solutions) and ensuring volunteering opportunities are visible.

Sarah has an academic background in physical geography and earth sciences, social science and engineering and professional experience in water resources and urban water management. This includes alternative water supply systems (e.g. rainwater harvesting), drought risk management and community water resilience. She previously worked at Thames Water, the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems and was most recently an Associate Professor in Environmental Hazards & Community Resilience at UWE’s Centre for Water, Communities & Resilience.

Cat Farnell
Cat FarnellEducation Specialist
Cat will be working with schools along the length of the Culm catchment helping pupils to learn about the River Culm, explore the issues it faces and allow them to be part of the plan to make it a better place for people and wildlife.

Cat is an experienced primary school teacher with a background in environmental archaeology. She now works as a heritage and environment educator engaging people with their local environment. She has worked on a range of projects across the south-west including the ‘Culm Community Crayfish’ project and ‘Natural Futures’ run by the Blackdown Hills AONB and the University of Exeter’s ‘Understanding Landscapes’ project.

Tim Youngs
Tim YoungsProject Director
Tim is the Project Director for the Connecting the Culm project and the Manager of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership. The Blackdown Hills AONB is one of 34 nationally designated landscapes, alongside National Parks.

Tim’s role is to take an overview of the project and work closely with the whole team to make sure the project is on-track in terms of budget and work programme. Keeping an eye on the future and ‘horizon scanning’ for future funding is also important, along with an on-going assessment of risks to the project and the team dynamics. Tim reports directly to the project Steering Group that is made up of funders, key partners and members of the AONB Partnership Management Group.

Lucy Jefferson
Lucy JeffersonCulm Catchment Officer
The Culm Catchment Officer is a new post created as part of the Devon-wide Devon County Council project called “Managing Big Problems in Small Places”. Lucy will be working with local landowners and communities in six target locations across the Culm catchment (Halberton, Culmstock, Hemyock, Weaver, Lyner and Kentisbeare) to identify areas requiring improved flood resilience and potential opportunities for nature-based solutions to help reduce flooding.

Lucy has previously worked for Natural England as a Farm Adviser and grew up in the Culm Valley.

Catherine Corfield
Catherine CorfieldProject Finance & Admin Officer
Catherine’s role is to support project admin and finance. She is a point of contact for partners, community organisations and for general enquiries and will be liaising with farmers and landowners on nature-based solution project finance. You will also see her helping out with events and activities in the Culm catchment.

Catherine is delighted to be back living and working in the West Country where she grew up. Most recently she has been supporting leaders run the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in schools, colleges, and youth groups and is a keen advocate for the responsible enjoyment of the countryside.

Clare Groom
Clare GroomCommunications Officer Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Clare’s role is to provide communications advice and support for the Connecting the Culm project and help promote the work of the project through Blackdown Hills AONB’s communication channels including the website, e-newsletter, events guide, print and broadcast media, and social media.
Corrie Grafton
Corrie GraftonFarm Advisor, Nature-based Solutions Specialist, WRT
Corrie is Connecting the Culm’s Natural Capital Advisor and her role is to work closely with landowners, land managers and farmers in the Culm catchment to identify and provide support with installing nature-based solutions (NBS) that can improve the Culm valley’s resilience to severe flood and drought.

Her background lies in ecology and conservation and she is a keen advocate of landscape-scale approaches to environmental challenges.

Anna Seal
Anna SealJunior Partnerships and Engagement Officer, WRT
Anna helps to deliver community engagement and co-creation activities for Connecting the Culm, as well as working on other projects for the Westcountry Rivers Trust. She also helps to promote events and volunteering opportunities in the Culm catchment and creates content for the Connecting the Culm website.

With a back ground in zoology and conservation, Anna is a keen advocate for helping everyone to connect with, and enjoy, the nature around them.

Josie Purcell
Josie PurcellCommunications & Marketing Manager at WRT
Josie oversees and initiates numerous communication and marketing opportunities and campaigns for WRT. She is supporting CtC with the development and delivery of its communications strategy and plan.

Josie is a qualified and experienced journalist as well as a professional photographer/short filmmaker. She holds a MA in Photography and when not working with WRT, she creates environment-related photo-art and runs workshops via her eco-conscious photographic practice.

Steven Johnson
Steven JohnsonProject Manager
Steven’s role is to lead the Connecting the Culm project: coordinating the team, reporting to the steering group and collaborating with our partners in Somerset and Europe through the Co-Adapt project.

Steven is an environmentalist by nature, and engineer and project manager by training, with a background in the water and wastewater industry in the UK and experience of international water, sanitation and hygiene projects. He is passionate about sustainable development and collaborating to achieve better outcomes for people and the environment. Having been born and brought up in Cornwall, he is excited to be applying the knowledge and skills he’s developed from further afield back to the south west!

Lydia Ashworth
Lydia AshworthEvidence and Engagement Officer WRT
Lydia works with volunteers to collect vital environmental observations and water quality measurements on the Culm. She runs CSI training events and webinars and will also be analysing the Maptionnaire survey results.

Lydia helps to monitor the Rivers of the South West and is also part of two other large projects. Plymouth River Keepers, where she is coordinating a citizen science effort and Preventing Plastic Pollution where she is mapping and collecting data on where and what plastic is entering the Tamar.