Paul Jackson’s fascination with fish was sparked when his family relocated to Greece for six months when he was just 9 years old. Snorkelling with his father in the warm waters of the Mediterranean he was taken with the abundance of marine life he saw every day. A further holiday to California brought him his first sighting of a shark and he was smitten. Years of tropical fishkeeping were to follow!
A gap year trip to Australia in 1989 provided an opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef and that in turn led him to undertake his PADI qualification.
Whilst Paul’s education (BA in Economics and Politics and MSc in Charity Finance) took him to London, where he is Chief Executive of the charity The Hospital Saturday Fund, each holiday is spent exploring the reefs and oceans of the world. Desperate to dive with manta rays but with a young family, Paul made a solo trip to the Maldives in 2011. Fate played a hand and Paul ended up spending his entire holiday on Guy Stevens’ research boat in Hanifaru Bay. A week of observing and snorkelling with mantas and even a whale shark made up Paul’s mind; he was determined to use his knowledge of the charity sector to help these magnificent animals.
In December 2011 Paul was appointed Chairman of the Manta Trust. Recently, Paul has spent some time in Cancun, Mexico snorkelling with the large numbers of mantas and whale sharks that aggregate there in the summer. This wonderful experience has made Paul even more passionate about supporting the Manta Trust.
Paul Simpson- Secretary
Growing up in the south-west of the UK, Paul has been heavily influenced by all things aquatic, spending much of his youth fishing, surfing & snorkelling. Also with Dartmoor National Park on the doorstep, exploration sparked a passion for geography and the environment, leading him to study a BSc in Forestry in North Wales & Finland.
Paul’s sub-aquatic interests were first forged whilst working at the National Marine Aquarium and where he met good friend Guy Stevens. Mainly selling cuddly sharks and rays, Paul was also involved locally in whale & dolphin (cetacean) recovery. A subsequent trip to East Africa and a first dive in Lake Malawi, witnessing nesting cyclid fish has meant that Paul has been hooked ever since.
Paul has been fortunate to have be involved in research trips to the Komodo Islands & Mexico and observe some truly majestic mantas. Paul is honoured to be a trustee as the Manta Trust endeavours at the spearhead of marine conservation & research.
Katie’s passion for marine biology was ignited in 2006 after leaving her job as a buyer to embark on a year of travelling, which, as it turned out, was to change the course of both her career and life. Having learnt to dive earlier that year she left the UK, headed for the Seychelles to volunteer on a coral monitoring programme. Having only experienced the cold and often murky waters of the UK as a diver Katie was completely captivated by everything she saw and experienced from the moment she first entered the water in the Seychelles. Deciding there was no going back, Katie completed her Divemaster whilst taking up another volunteer position working with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles on their whale shark programme.
In the years that followed Katie returned to the Seychelles annually to co-ordinate the project activities for the whale shark programme, also finding time to work and dive in Palau, the Great Barrier Reef and Thailand as well as working on whale shark research and projects in Western Australia, Djibouti and Qatar.
To make the switch to marine research and conservation ‘official’ Katie returned to the UK in late 2009 to complete her masters in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York. It was as part of this course that Katie took up a placement with the Maldivian Manta Ray Project during their 2010 season. Having worked for so long with whale sharks Katie had been lucky enough to have just a few brief encounters with manta rays, but it was during her time in the Maldives that Katie became truly fascinated by these amazing creatures sparking her enthusiasm to understand them more fully and to work for their continued conservation and sustainable management. Katie’s work has already helped contribute to the ongoing management in place for these animals in Maldivian MPAs.
Having worked for the Trust as Director of Operations Katie now works for Fauna and Flora International.
Nic Trollope used to be a partner of Conyers Dill & Pearman, barristers and attorneys,in Bermuda before retiring in 2010.
Alongside his successful legal career he has always taken an active interest in environmental matters. Most recently Nic has been working with WWF in Brazil on a variety of their projects. Nic feels very privileged to complement his experiences in this as a trustee of the Manta Trust.
Taking a career break in 2005, Bec’s travels around Australia saw her swim with manta rays and whale sharks and dive the Great Barrier Reef for the first time. These life-changing experiences would stay with her long past the end of her travels, reigniting her passion for wildlife and the environment, something that had formed a big part of her childhood and undergraduate studies.
In 2008, after 5 years working in the research arena, both in industry and academia, Bec embarked on a new challenge and a change of direction which included working on environmental projects in Borneo with Raleigh International and working as a Diving Instructor in Vietnam. It was during this time that Bec, having seen not only the stunning variety and pure joy that the oceans have to offer but also the challenges, conflicts and threats facing the marine environment, decided to make a permanent career change. Bec returned to the UK to study an MSc in Marine Environmental Management at the University of York. It was during these studies that Bec joined the Maldivian Manta Ray Project for a summer research placement in 2011 looking at manta tourism, and more specifically, human interactions, behavioural impacts and management implications.
After completing her MSc, Bec worked as a freelance environmental researcher which included report writing for Greenpeace International and continues to work in marine conservation in the UK.
Despite spending most of his working life in the financial industry, where he specialises in advising charities on the best way to manage risk and to extract as much return from their investments as possible, Jonathan (Jo!) has had a varied life. He has spent six years in the British Army, worked for an automotive technology company that provided crucial diagnostic equipment for the F1 teams, played bass guitar and saxophone in various bands, rallyed a 1957 race-car across the Alps and acted in a feature film, amongst other things.
His family lived all over the world, spending time in the Far East, Europe and East Africa and it was during his time in the Sudan that Jo discovered his passion for ‘all that lies under the seas’… Having hitched a lift across 900 miles of the Nubian Desert, he met up with a treasure-hunting Swiss family who offered to take him out to the wreck of a WW2 Italian munitions ship, lying some six miles off the coast. This was his first ever dive. He had no training, ran out of air at 30 meters and fell in love with the whole thing…!
He managed to engineer a six month tour in Belize whilst serving with the British Army and used this opportunity to further his love of sub-aqua, spending as much time as possible diving on the region’s spectacular reefs, blue holes etc… At this point he nearly resigned from the forces to pursue his passion, but regrettably this was not to be.
Jo now lives in London with his wife-to-be, Camilla. They have five amazing children, all at various stages of the British education system. He and Camilla spend as much time as they can in their small-but-very-beautiful house in the south west of France and enjoy an unhealthy obsession with motorbiking, with a brace of Harley Davidsons lurking in the garage… They are going on honeymoon to the Maldives to search for sun, sea and…Mantas!
Mark Davies has spent the last quarter of a century (!) employed in developing business in the specialist financial services world for the charitable sector. Always enthralled by the diversity of this sector Mark has much experience as a trustee working for a number of organisations including a small furniture recycling project, a homelessness group, a national infrastructure body and as non-executive director at HSF Health Plan working alongside fellow Manta Trust trustee Paul Jackson.
Outside of work one of Mark’s passions is snowboarding, converting from skiing 12 years ago, he’s never looked back, he also is a huge Welsh rugby fan and a keen walker and cyclist. He’s not yet ventured into the underwater realm and is hoping that his involvement with the Manta Trust might finally inspire him to take the plunge!
Mark is excited to serve as a trustee for The Manta Trust and to learn more about the amazing and graceful creatures the Trust works so hard to protect and help flourish. Mark is hoping that his wealth of experience in the charity sector will assist The Manta Trust’s development as the leading authority in their field.