Steven Donagain

Steven Donagain is our CEO. After completing forestry training at Tampere University Finland he went on to work in the forestry sector in Finland, Russia, Canada and Britain.

After completing further forestry machine operator qualifications in Finland he returned to the UK as a forwarder operator before moving to Hill Holt Wood as a ranger teaching forestry to disadvantaged children. Since then he was responsible for running all the forestry and countryside contracts for Hill Holt Wood and writing and implementing management plans for the 1000 acres of land that Hill Holt Wood manages. Steve took the reins as CEO in June 2016.


Oliver Woodman

Oliver is the Head of Operations at Hill Holt Wood. He is responsible for all aspects of the on-site operation, including site maintenance, compliance and legislation and event management. After completing a degree in Environmental Studies at Newcastle University, he spent the first twenty years of his career managing various restaurants around Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Oliver came to Hill Holt Wood as a volunteer looking for a change in career. Since then he has been employed as a ranger teaching disadvantaged children, before being promoted to Site Manager, utilising his experience in the catering industry to manage events at Hill Holt Wood. Bird enthusiasts should check out his twitter account for his stunning photos @woodmanoliver1

Sam Marshall

Behind our successful Study Programme is a bubbly and energetic dynamo who’s warm personality makes her the person our learners turn to in their most traumatic times. Sam’s intelligent and empathic approach has helped us deliver a Study Programme to be proud of and she is a key member of the Senior Management Team.

Tim Sleight

The man behind the numbers, Senior Manager and best dressed man in the wood Tim can turn his hand to events as well as keeping an eye on the pennies. Invoice and payment queries should be sent his way, alongside comments about Chelsea FC’s latest shortcomings.

Ben Wilson

Head Ranger Ben is the proud handler to our resident Harris’ Hawk (Horst) and health and safety expert. Equally at home felling a mighty Oak or clearing bramble he’s one of our longest serving team members and a big fan of tricky trees.

Vicky Robinson

It takes a special person to arrive at Hill Holt Wood on one of our programs and work their way up to Senior Ranger and that is precisely what Vicky is. As happy to muck in and get dirt under her fingernails as she is meticulously competing forms and paperwork she’s Hill Holt Wood all the way through.

Harley Houldcroft

Senior Ranger, gamer, married with two children. Harley’s knack of making the complicated seem simple has helped many learners over the years realise that mechanics is something they could do for a living. Although he prefers Star Trek to Star Wars he’s still a nice guy.

Nigel Webster

Forestry strongman and extraction expert Nigel can bend six inch nails with his bare (bear?) hands and fell even the mightiest of trees. His reputation on the forwarder is second to none, stacking timber into delicate piles then heading off into the wood before most have even got started. Rumours that he’s a hobgoblin are yet to be confirmed.

Lizzie Swirles

Like the Queen-Bee in a busy hive Lizzie is the the hub of our activities. As popular for her organisation skills as she is for her smile we’d be lost without her. Her piano passion proves she’s equally talented on keyboards both musical and administrative.

Alan Eley

When most people think of Hill Holt Wood it’s Alan they picture. He’s the wood personified and it’s commonly believed that if he leaves the company the wood itself will revolt. One of the most popular Rangers; he’s been with us since the very early days and is our longest serving Ranger. His craftsmanship is now receiving international recognition and he’s passing on his traditional skills to our young learners.

James Boothman

The man they call ‘Mario’ is both our friendly bus driver and lead garden renovator. He’s known for his unrelenting work ethic and good sense of humour and is a fine mentor to our young learners.

Dawn Boothman

There’s more to Dawn than a wicked attention to detail and a fierce protection of her newly cleaned floors. She’s proved to an attentive one-to-one worker, helping the students that need it the most in a calming and kindly fashion.

Maggie McBreen

Like the first flowers of spring Maggie is a splash of colour that brightens up the day. Her cheery demeanour and contagious smile ensure that her sessions are far removed from most young people’s experience of schooling. Maggie is incredibly passionate about the state of roadsides in our local community and no Ranger can compete with her when it comes to the amount of rubbish picked up in a typical day on Watch NK.

Hollie Drake

Hard work and intelligence are the hall-marks of our Design Team Lead. Her talents aren’t just confined to the design team office however as she works weddings and teaches university students too. She even put together a whole new Sustainable Building qualification from scratch. Her namesake, (Sir Francis) was awarded a knighthood in 1581 and we believe it’s only a matter of time until our Hollie gets one too.

Callum Ball and Billy Richardson

Meet our forestry apprentices. So much woodland to manage meant we needed to bring in some raw power and they both certainly fit the bill. In the short time they’ve been with us they’re already qualified to work with chainsaws, strimmers and much more. Under Nigel’s demanding tutelage they are learning how to take care of our environment.

Maz Foster

The head of The Hive Cafe and master cake mixer, Maz is also the chef for our wedding parties and other events. She’s equally good at whipping up tasty meals as she is passing on her skills to our Hospitality learners and has been the saviour of many a cold day with a hot treat for shivering Rangers.

Michael Coupland-Brown

If you need someone to work one-to-one with a learner, at any of our sites, teach Heritage Woodcraft skills, English or any other task then flexible and confident Michael the Mod is the man you call. Every business needs a versatile team player and he’s ours. Not a trait that goes unvalued we can assure you.

Elizabeth Hudson

Our functional skills tutor helps our learners reach their full potential. Bubbly and enthusiastic “Crash Lizzie” has a particular fondness for the colour purple, which is also true of the celebrity songstress Miley Cyrus. While Lizzie didn’t come in like a wrecking ball she has certainly brought a ray of sunshine to our classrooms since starting in 2016. Happy to be referred to as “The Functionator.”

Phil Kay

As Hill Holt Wood expands so does our fleet of vehicles and Phil is the man who keeps us all moving. Tippers, buses, mini-vans, mowers and JCBs all need to be kept in full working order and we’d be stuck without him. He’s also in a band, which officially makes him the most rock and roll ranger in our history and proves he’s good with drum brakes and drum solos.


Tom Smith

The youthful face of Hill Holt Wood is our nominated television Ranger. He fitted quickly into our team with his affable nature and range of practical skills and knowledge. An ex-archaeologist who’s keen to make a difference to the future of our young learners.

Deborah Bishop

When all those about you are losing their heads, Deborah will be calmly keeping the books. Unflappable and reassuring she’s the steady hand on the financial rudder since moving from our Gainsborough site.

Ian Metheringham

You would expect Hill Holt Wood to boast a few woodwork experts and Ian fits the bill. Clever solutions and creative designs from our own wood are his forte. He’s happiest when covered in sawdust and shavings from a productive day’s work.

Andy Harrison

He’s been there and done it all. Now Andy is our reliable driver who picks up learners on his merry way to the wood. Without him there would be stranded teenagers across the Lincoln area and the wood would be a much quieter place.

Gavin Warhurst

A little bit of knowledge about a lot of things, Senior Ranger Gav started out as our administrator, then took over teaching Maths and English for several years before moving on to our exciting Growing Up Green Project where he’ll be helping 4000 youngsters to reconnect with nature and the green environment.

Dave Brentnall

A background in joinery and furniture building has armed Glastonbury regular Dave with all the knowledge needed to help teach our eager learners. A can-do attitude and cheery demeanour are the cornerstone to his popularity.

Richard Reeve

Having spent time living (and building a straw bale house) in Spain; Richard has now returned to Britain, bringing his Eco-construction experience to the team, Rich will be passing on his skills to construction learners and be the chief adjudicator for any Spanish language disputes we might have.

Chris Waddle

Heading up our landscaping pathway, he’s a talented fencer and a keen climber who’d love to tackle the north face of the Eiger (and erect a fence possibly?). Chris brings his knowledge, wisdom and daring to the Hill Holt Wood team.

Claire Barr

Learning support legend and tough cookie Claire is practical and versatile. Able to lend a hand to the least assured students in the classroom and outside her sense of humour is much appreciated.

Adele Clarkson

Ever re-homed a duck? Adele has. She’s a talented woodcarver who works hard to support our young people with their issues and their class work. Adele is a friendly face who will quack a smile when you see her but don’t worry about coming to her with your problems, it won’t get her down, it’s water off a ducks back.


Aidan Hogan

The newest member of our esteemed Design Team likes Jaffa Cakes (but doesn’t eat them) and going to festivals around Europe. He joins us from Queens University, Belfast. He once did competitive orienteering and stood beside Jon Snow in battle against Ramsey Bolton’s army. Perfect preparation for his time with us.

Ben Duxbury

Recruited in May 2017 to add extra expertise and manpower to the joinery branch of the HHW tree; Ben has volunteered on many straw bale and eco-builds and is more than handy at Hammer Gymnastics.

Becky Wood

Recruited in June 2017 Becky works in the main (straw bale) office in an administrative role. A growing Social Enterprise needs organised and motivated individual to keep it running smoothly and Becky more than fits the bill. Rumours that she changed her surname by deed-poll to get the job are probably untrue.

Ed Hampton

Joining the team after working as a Ranger north of the border Ed is taking the reins over at the Big Wood site. He’ll be bringing a new perspective to the project at our sister site. Rumours that he spent the summer dressed up as the Gruffalo are yet to be verified however…

Laura Atkins

Recruited in January 2018 Laura we can’t wait to get to know her better before making an entry here. Watch this space!

Ben Wiles

An enigmatic January 2018 addition to the design team. Ben likes to eat Marmite on weekdays but not weekends. Born in Germany on British soil Ben is a weekend pirate who likes the dark side of the moon (musically and astronomically).

Aaron Vinaccia

Aaron was selected to join the design team in January 2018. He says his surname means crushed grapes and he would love to visit Pluto or Saturn (to ruffle the rings), he currently considers himself to be 37% Italian, 63% Northern Irish and 1% Croatian.


Office mascot and cuddly stress relief, Border Terrier Brook loves nothing more than the attention of our visitors, something that is never in any short supply.

Meet The Team - Hill Holt Wood Column Image