Shirley Matthews - Chairman
Author of "Thyme & Tide" - The island cook book with over 60 recipes based on over 10 years of volunteering on Skokholm Island as a cook for many of the work parties. It also features some popular desserts and sweets that I have served during the Friends Reunion held yearly in Cheltenham for the past 10 years.
Mark Burton - Vice Chairman
I first visited Skomer when working as the boatman for Dale Fort Field centre in 1994. I then started to work as part of the Skomer Marine Reserve team based at Martins Haven and also work evenings on the Dale Princess. The Islands are a part of my daily life now and being on the Friends Committee has allowed me to help support the Wardens on both Islands and share my love of these very special places with a wider range of people.
Carol Collins - Secretary
My interest in the islands began in the late 1960s when, as a student, I spent a couple of summers helping with research on Skokholm’s house mice. I fell in love with the island, but other aspects of life took over and I didn’t visit again until 2004. By this time I was a librarian and it seemed only natural to get involved with the library and archives. Thus I found myself on the Friends Committee and involved with the Archives Project.
John Walmsley - Treasurer
Having always been a keen naturalist and having visited Skomer since the 1960s, I was delighted to become involved with the Friends when I moved to Pembrokeshire 10 years ago. I became treasure quite soon and have taken part in many work parties on both Skokholm and Skomer.
I first visited Skokholm with Steve Sutcliffe in 1977, it was the first island I ‘looked after’ catering for visitors for week in 1979, experiencing the infamous Fastnet Race storm in all its fury. I became a member of the islands committee and during the goat removal from the island Steve and I met John Lewis and the ‘Friends of Skokholm and Skomer’ was created. By then Steve and I then jumped islands on to Skomer where I lived and worked, doing field assistant work and research for Edward Grey Institute and Sheffield University [1986-the end of 1994] as well as bringing up our son Ben. I am an island addict [over 55 islands visited round the World] and am a ringer and ecologist running my own business. I promote ‘our’ islands through lectures and sharing my seabird and island knowledge with love, enthusiasm and by mimicking bird sounds! I am involved in the Photographic side of the Archive Project.
My first visit to Skokholm was back in 1962 and I have been more or less obsessed by the Pembrokeshire islands ever since. With John Lewis I was instrumental in setting up the Friends in late 1981 and have been involved ever since. I was warden on Skomer from 1986 to 1994 and have been much involved with the Skokholm restoration work from 2010 to 2014 and continue to organise the annual work parties there. I sit on the WTSWW Islands Conservation Advisory Committee.
It with great sadness that we have learnt that John passed away a few days ago. John was one of our founder members from well over 40 years ago. There is a tribute on our NEWS page.
Assisting with deliveries for the Skokholm restoration project back in 2009 started a passion for the island. I helped with the re-establishment of Skokholm as a Bird Observatory and sitting on the Friends committee provides a link between the two. As a bird ringer, my visits to the island are focused on work with the birds so am usually found to be up at all hours and windswept! I am keen to promote the work and fellowship of the Friends so information and pictures to share on social media are always gratefully received.
Whitsun 1966 was a watershed moment for me. Our school biology teacher, David Stanbury,
took a group of boys every year to Skokholm and this was to be my first visit – (he did this for many years and continued after retirement exceeding over eighty five visits in total). I was hooked and went again the following year, returning once in the 1980s with friends and then every year (when allowed) since 2013. After leaving school I was warden of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve for two years, then spent a year in the USA travelling and working in National Audubon Society centres and Manomet bird observatory, before pursuing a career outside of conservation. After my three sons left home I had more time and have for many years now carried out numerous bird surveys for the BTO, Sussex Ornithological Society and RSPB and I look forward to doing whatever I can to help conserve these wonderful islands.
Tim Healing - Editor
I did my PhD on the Skomer Bank Vole, starting in 1971 and have been working on the voles ever since with at least one visit to the island each year (except when Covid intervened!). I am also doing some work on the bank voles on Ramsey. I have been a member of the Friends Committee for many years and am the joint editor of Island News. I am also a member of the WTSWW Islands Conservation Advisory Committee.
Mike Penny - IT
A chance visit to Skomer in the summer of 1969 and a twenty five year pause has kept me visiting as a 'vol' most years ever since the early nineties. As an architect I was pleased to help with advice on building strategies and when repair work started on Skokholm discovered the delights of the 'lower' island too. I am still an amateur when it comes to wildlife, but it is always a pleasure to meet experts from whom I learn more every time. I also enjoy chatting to all the different kind of visitors from all over the World. Making wildlife accessible is so important.