Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum




Appointment to this role comes at one of the most significant and exciting times in the history of both the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum (FoWA) and the Arboretum. With a new and aspirational 10-year vision developed in partnership with Forestry England to transform Westonbirt Arboretum and secure its place as “a world leader in trees.” Inspiring many more people through ‘Conservation, Education, and Participation.”


Established in 1985 by a small group of enthusiasts with a desire to work closely with Forestry England to help preserve, enhance, and develop this unique landscape by raising funds from their membership scheme. Today they have grown to become an organisation with an income in excess of £1.7m per annum that employs 23 members of staff and serves more than 38,000 members.

They are immensely proud of their work, its impact, their partners, and the generous support they receive from their Ambassador, The Hon. Beth Rothschild, and their Royal Patron. They benefit from having firm foundations in place to build upon their achievements, with the role of Chair representing an amazing and unique opportunity to join a dedicated, passionate, and high-performing team, all of whom are incredibly proud of being part of and celebrating Westonbirt Arboretum.


FoWA relies on the support and guidance of a dedicated and skilled Chair and Board of Trustees, who are actively involved in the organisation’s strategic direction, governance, and decision-making. All of whom will be fundamental in driving the new vision from concept to completion.

With you as their new Chair expected to share their passion for the enhancement, conservation, and care of Westonbirt. Working collaboratively with Foresty England and their CEO to help shape the long-term sustainable future of both Westonbirt Arboretum and the charity, horizon scan, broker new introductions, and effectively mobilise new opportunities. Act as an ambassador and a public face, support the CEO, and ensure that the board functions as a unit and works closely with the entire team at FoWA to achieve their strategic objectives.

Career Level



Degree (or postgraduate) qualification or equivalent role-based attainment, together with evidence of continuing professional development.




The role is about exercising soft power, persuasion, and diplomacy, with an occasional burst of more executive-style decision-making when needed. It is also never straightforward, nor one solely about strategy.


  • Provide strategic and inclusive leadership to the FoWA and its board, ensuring the charity achieves its strategic ambition and vision.
  • Ensure that trustees fulfill their duties and responsibilities for the effective governance of the charity.
  • Contribute actively to the board’s role in shaping strategy, framing and reviewing policies, and achieving our strategic ambitions.
  • Ensure the financial sustainability of the charity through the application of appropriate financial controls and policies, which are reviewed regularly.


  • Encourage active discussion at board meetings, summarising key points and ensuring decisions made are implemented.
  • Work with board committees and the CEO regarding governance and the setting of priorities.
  • Develop the knowledge and capability of the board of trustees.
  • Appraise the performance of trustees, and the board’s contribution, in terms of its role in achieving FoWA’s strategic ambitions and vision.
  • Work with the CEO to ensure the board of trustees is regularly refreshed and incorporates the right balance of skills, knowledge, and experience needed to govern and lead FoWA effectively.


  • Actively promote FoWA and act as spokesperson and ambassador.
  • Actively seek to introduce the CEO to organisations and individuals who could be supportive.
  • Develop a strong working alliance with National Forestry England senior leadership and close relationships with key stakeholders, thought leaders, influencers, and funders.
  • Represent FoWA at events, conferences, receptions, and other public functions.
  • Be supportive of profile-raising and fundraising activities.


  • Establish and build a strong, effective, and constructive working relationship with the CEO, ensuring they are accountable for achieving the agreed strategic objectives.
  • Regularly engage and act as a communication channel between the board and the CEO, clarifying board decisions, agreeing on performance criteria, and providing feedback to the CEO.
  • Develop and maintain an open and supportive relationship where each can speak openly about concerns, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Lead an annual appraisal and remuneration review for the CEO in consultation with other trustees.
  • Ensure that the CEO has the opportunity for professional development and has appropriate external professional support.


The above list is indicative only and not exhaustive, and you will be expected to perform additional duties reasonably commensurate with the role.

Person Specification

Expectations are high. As our new chair, you will need to evidence and demonstrate commitment and be fully engaged and motivated by our vision for Westonbirt Arboretum and bring the necessary experience, expertise, and energy to ensure we are able to achieve all that we hope to achieve.


  • Significant senior strategic leadership experience.
  • Successful track record of achievement throughout your career.
  • Demonstrable experience of having chaired, together with experience or an understanding of charity governance and working as part of a non-executive board.
  • Entrepreneurial, with the ability to successfully navigate strategic, financial, operational, and reputational challenges.
  • Experience of external representation, delivering presentations, and managing stakeholders.

Knowledge & Skills

  • An understanding and acceptance of the role and responsibilities of a Chair.
  • Broad knowledge of the charity sector and current issues affecting it.
  • Sound independent judgement, strategic vision, and the ability to think creatively.
  • Strong leadership skills, ability to motivate staff and volunteers and bring people together.
  • Commitment to fairness and to promoting equality and inclusion.
  • Strong financial and business acumen and a broad understanding of charity finance law and regulation.


  • Strong and visible passion and commitment to the values and vision of FoWA.
  • Personal gravitas, credibility, and impact to lead a significant local organisation of national importance.
  • Strong interpersonal and relationship building abilities to build and sustain positive relationships with key stakeholders and colleagues to achieve organisational objectives.
  • Tact and diplomacy, with the ability to listen and engage effectively.
  • Ability to commit the necessary time and effort to conduct the role well, including travel and attending events outside of office hours.


Organisation Profile

FoWA are a charity with over 38,000 members and supporters who help support Westonbirt Arboretum; a historic, Victorian picturesque landscape and internationally important tree and shrub collection, covering 600 acres of woodland with 15,000 labelled specimens from Britain, China, North America, Japan, Chile and other temperate climates.

They share an ambition with Forestry England for Westonbirt to become a world leader in trees, inspiring people through education, participation and conservation, and efforts to connect people with trees to improve the quality of life. Working tirelessly to to further public enjoyment and knowledge of this world renowned tree collection and to secure its sustainable future by engaging, informing and increasing membership and by giving financial and practical support to the management and development of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.

They recognise that the Arboretum is not only an important environmental and educational resource for those who live locally but performs work that has national and international benefits. Training expert arborists who will help care for woodlands and forests across the UK, and actively participating in climate change research that benefits worldwide environmental understanding.

There is also so much to do and see. The Old Arboretum is a carefully designed landscape dating from the 1850s offering beautiful vistas, stately avenues, and trees from around the world. Silk Wood is an ancient, semi-natural woodland which has exotic planting throughout its landscape; and the Downs, is a Grade 1 registered landscape and hosts species-rich grassland.

A highly influential partner, and members of a Joint Working Panel, which ensures collaborative working to support Forestry England on site, FoWA is proud to be a critical friend and partner providing a consistent presence to keep sight of long-term objectives and capital development projects. They also hold the accolade of being the most successful Friends Group and charity supporting a Forestry England wood.

Industry Category

Company Size

Apply Now

If you would welcome the opportunity to apply, please forward:

  • A CV or an extended biography outlining your executive and non-executive appointments, achievements, and academic and professional qualifications.
  • A supporting statement (maximum 2 x A4 pages) demonstrating why you are interested in the role, your relevant skills and experience, and how and in what ways you seek to add value and what you would hope to gain from the engagement.


Your application should be sent to Philip Nelson, FoWA’s advising consultant at

Please also let us know if you require any special provisions should you be called forward for an interview.



  • Closing Date: Monday 24th April
  • Preliminary Interviews: Monday 15th & Tuesday 16th May
  • Final Panel Interviews: Tuesday 6th or Wednesday 7th June



For an informal and confidential discussion, to ask a question on any aspect of the appointment process, or for additional information, please contact Philip Nelson on 07771 953959 or via email at