Lewis Phillips. The driving force behind WCCOE is Lewis Phillips from local conservation company Wings Of Wales. This business has been in operation for 4 years with WCCOE project in mind for the future. A professional photographer, journalist, lecturer and animal trainer Lewis has always been passionate about the natural world. His work has been highly commended in a number of international awards and one day he hopes to publish a book on his passion, Vultures. Lewis is currently involved in the re introduction of eagles back into Wales and networks alongside many conservation organisations.



Current support

WCCOE has also been supported by a number of local people helping with the planning of the overall proposal. These are businesses committing help in their spare time to structure forward planning, giving advice and also helping with admin and research.

Cerys Hill. Cerrys is a passionate horticulturalist with keen interest in conservation and the environment. Her background includes time spent as the Wales Ambassador for the disabled people’s programme with the Department for Work and Pensions, and she brings a wealth of experience in employment support for disadvantaged individuals from the private, public and third sector. She is dedicated to the WCCOE ethos, and hopes to develop a beautiful, sustainable space for people and wildlife to enjoy. Born and raised in the Cynon Valley, Cerrys is very excited to be working closely with the local community in creating opportunities for people to learn, volunteer and work.

Jack James, BSc (Hons), PhD – Director of Pontus Research https:// www.pontusresearch.com Jack is highly regarded in his field and has offered us many hours of his time with advice and guidance on the planning of the WCCOE. Jack has also pledged to be one of the directors of WCCOE.

Rachel Coleman, BSc (Hons) Zoology – Swansea University A recent graduate of Swansea University having completed studies with an emphasis on ecology, conservation and welfare Rachel has used the skills gained to research numbers and offer editorial advice on the proposal. Currently volunteers with Wings of Wales.

Angela Clarke. Born in the Cynon Valley , Angela is passionate and committed to community involvement and engagement and has been an active volunteer with many organisations for over 30 years . She believes that a community benefits from what is put into it, and that any community assets are accessible to and for all people regardless of any disabilities or barriers .She has had a Career in the Civil Service , experience with Scouting association and for many years has held office as a school governor .

Geoff James Academic: BSc Zoology and Botany (Hons) Post-grad research in native fish reproduction, controlled breeding of cyprinids. MA & PhD in education, Advanced Diploma in Special needs, Post Grad Cert in Education, Work: Manager of trout and salmon fish farm, consultancy and research on fish breeding and farming 70s. Owner/manager of outdoor centre in West Wales and committee member of West Wales Wildlife Trust, conservation farmer in North Pembs in 80s/90s; biology and general science secondary school teacher, behaviour specialist and adviser 90s/10s; independent educational consultant, author, adviser, current.

Adam Wilkinson – Adam is an entrepreneur who is a specialist in Sales and Marketing with experience of leading this function for one of the fastest growing employers in Wales, with a focus on creating meaningful employment opportunities in the valleys. This is an ethos Adam brings with him to WCCOE to ensure funding secured creates economic benefit in the community and for the local environment. Adam has a keen interest in wildlife, nature and conservation as well as outdoor pursuits.

Rhian Gait-Parker, LLB (Hons), Solicitor and Operations Director has a proven track record in leadership, high performance and project implementation. Having led people in a commercial environment for over 25 years, her role for the team will support keeping us on track for milestone delivery, lending expertise from a people, employment law and recruitment perspective, as well as bringing high levels of enthusiasm, activity and energy. Rhian was born in Aberdare and apart from the years studying at Exeter University and Guildford College of Law, has always lived there. A keen walker, appreciator of the natural beauty of the Welsh Valleys and a passionate promoter of Wales, she joins the Board to help make the project a reality. Rhian has been privileged to have had the opportunity to support many community activities, including the Church and Scouting Association and holds roles as School Governor and Pension Trustee.

Mark Habben – An experienced Zoologist operating at senior leadership level. Mark has worked for zoological Society of London both as Zoological Manager for London Zoo and Head of Zoological Operations for London and Whipsnade where he spent 21 years.

Mark has chaired the Falconiformes and Strigiform Taxon Advisory Group for the European Zoo Association between 2011 and 2019 where his work prioritised the captive breeding of African and European vultures. As chair he helped to develop the long term management plan for European species with conservation partners – he now acts as an advisor to the TAG.

Mark now Heads the Living collections and Ranger Team for Wildwood Trust where he fulfils his passion for native species. He is currently a mentor and assessor for BIAZA.

Toby Forer – A leader with a proven track record in delivering exceptional results in a fast paced, commercial environment. Experienced in leading high-performing, multi skilled organisations, driving top and bottom line growth through an insight–led marketing plan and operational maximisation/effectiveness.

Key skills include a wealth of strategic and operational knowledge gained over 25 years of senior management, strong commercial acumen, an aptitude for innovation and project management.

Approachable and personable, with excellent communication & interpersonal skills – building strong relationships both within a team and with key stakeholders at both board and investor level.

P&L responsibility, successfully delivering business plans against target, growing revenues through increased visitor volumes and maximising spend per head. 

Maximised margins, and managed costs in order to grow year on year EBITDA and operational gearing. 

Developed 3-5 year Capital & Development plans, in order to grow businesses through product enhancement, in light of external factors and forces.

Leadership,  People Management and Development, responsible for leading over 95 members of staff, setting targets, training needs and objectives.

Product & Positioning,  successfully 

Marketing: overseeing the conception of launch and operational marketing plans and strategies.

Pricing: responsible for product delivery and non-financial KPIs in order to lift pricing opportunities

PR: championed PR campaigns in order to grow awareness through regional and national exposure across all media

Promotions & Partnerships: negotiated volume driving promotions with national brands to bolster key trading periods & secured sponsorship such as Multi Grociers, Regional media and reciprocal partners/Visitor attraction

Key Achievements:

SEA LIFE Brighton moved from 18th to ‘top 5’ status within Merlin Entertainments

Brighton SEA LIFE moved ahead of the Royal pavilion’s 300k visitor volume for the first time 

London Aquarium reflecting growth from 725k visitors per annum to circa 1.25 Million visits, overtaking ZSL London Zoo

Delivering Merlin Entertainments highest ever ROI (return on investment) business in the history of the organisation