The team

Thames21 has a core team of about 27 full time staff members, several committed delivery support staff and thousands of public volunteers each year.

Meet the team behind the scenes:

Debbie Leach
Thames21 Chief Executive
 Tel
: 07976 559778
Debbie joined Thames21 as Chief Executive in June 2005, bringing fifteen years’ experience in the voluntary sector. Her work with young people’s and educational charities lead to a growing interest in broader social inclusion and community development issues. Her previous career includes five years as Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Sports Leaders UK, a national charity engaging and developing 80,000 young people each year, and five years as the National Director of Fundraising for the Sea Cadet Association.
Debbie lives in Putney near the River Thames, and is a keen boater and sailor. “The great thing about rivers and canals is that they appeal to everyone, regardless of age, background or culture. It is fantastic to see the new friendships formed when people work side by side to improve their local waterway.”

Chris Coode
Deputy Chief Executive and Senior Programmes Manager
 Tel: 07813 799757

Chris joined Thames21 in 2001 as its Education Officer, before becoming a Senior Programmes Manager in 2004. He is now responsible for Thames21’s work to involve communities with their local London river through a programme of river clean ups, community warden schemes, habitat improvement projects and education work. Before joining Thames21, Chris worked as the Education Coordinator at the London Aquarium. He also has previous experience working as a warden on marine wildlife reserves along the coast of Dorset and Cornwall. He is one of the world great rockpoolers.

John Bryden
Senior Programmes Manager
 
Tel: 07968 012828
John joined Thames 21 in the 2014 from the Environment Agency where he was for 7 years mainly as a Biodiversity Officer covering the Lee catchment. He lead the development and delivery (often through partners such as Thames 21) of river restoration, wetland creation and SuDs projects to create a better river for wildlife and people. He now manages the following projects: Love the Lea Campaign, River Lea Catchment, Canals Liaison, Brent Waterways. South Hillingdon Waterways. East London Project. Catch21- London’s Angling Development Project. Inclusive Volunteering Project.

Emma Harrington
Development Manager
Tel: 07738 983334

Emma joined Thames21 in September 2014. Bringing with her 20 years’ experience of working with communities in a range of activities from organising cleanups, community gardening and establishing Friends of groups in parks and open spaces; Linking with partner organisations, funders and local authorities. She worked for the Lea Rivers Trust for 6 years as the Head of Operations managing the conservation, river cleanup and education teams. A Londoner living in London, Emma is now involved with ensuring that London’s diverse population is involved in river and waterway activities.

Lawrence Beale Collins
Catchment Partnership Coordinator for the Ravensbourne
 Tel: 07584 172209

Lawrence joined Thames21 in 2014 to help steer catchment partners through a legislative process of improvement for the river. Formally a journalist with the Press Association and Sky television, he completed a BSc and MSc (UCL) in environmental studies in 2010. His UCL thesis specialised on the catchment in which he now works. He leads bird-watching walks and river wades in his spare time, is co-organiser of the 3 Rivers Clean Up, a Thames21 initiative and once shared a lift with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

David Bigden
Catchment Partnership Coordinator Ravensbourne, Roding Beam and Ingrebourne
 Tel: 07746 593527

David has recently joined Thames21 and brings with him 20 years’ experience in the environmental field.  He is a Full Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and gained his BSc in Rural Resource Development at Writtle College.  David has worked for charities, local authorities, statutory bodies and in a self-employed capacity whilst running his own environmental consultancy.  He is also Chair of the South Essex Catchment Partnership and is looking forward to bringing the benefit of this experience to the RRBI Catchment Partnership Coordinator role for Thames21.  In his spare time he enjoys cycling, watching and playing sport and playing electric and acoustic guitar.

Billy Coburn
Development Officer
 Tel: 07557 970812
Billy studied Environmental Biology at the University of Reading, which along with regular volunteering for Groundwork, helped cement his passion for the environment. Billy grew up in Hillingdon and went to Uxbridge High School. His other interests include playing guitar, badminton and ultimate frisbee.

Luke Damerum
Non-tidal Thames Project Officer
 
Tel: 07824 491166
Luke first joined Thames21 as a volunteer and soon became a familiar and committed presence at events before coming a volunteer Riverkeeper. In 2010 he joined the team to coordinate the non-tidal Thames and the Bromley Borough River Cray projects. He has a degree in Marine and Fresh Water Biology and just for fun, is now undertaking another in chemistry. He has a keen interest in the natural world, and aims to share his enthusiasm for it and help reconnect people to the environment.

Vicky D’Souza
Stanmore Marsh and Queensbury Park Project Officer

 Tel: 07827 852599

Vicky has worked in environmental sectors for a number or years and enjoys exploring and discovering new places in London. She is currently working in North West London on Stanmore Marsh and Queensbury Park in the London Borough of Harrow, a community project funded by the Thames Water Community Investment Fund.

Ben Fenton
Love the Lea Programme Manager
  Tel: 07920 230970
Ben is heading up our Love the Lea Programme, tackling the water pollution of the Lower Lea Catchment. This project focuses on engaging people with their local rivers and tackling pollution by installing reedbeds. He has worked on a wide range of projects since joining Thames21 in 2008 including project managing our high profile Big Waterways Clean Up 2012 Campaign and the Fixing Broken Rivers Project. Prior to this Ben studied Environmental Science at Leeds University.

Edel Fingleton
Education Coordinator
 Tel: 07734 871728

Edel coordinates school and community activities that engage people in learning about and exploring their wonderful local waterways. This work is taking place in various catchments across London and at the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre near Wembley. Before joining Thames21 Edel studied Environmental Science and worked with a range of environmental organisations in the Third Sector.

Molly Gadenz
Training Officer
 Tel: 07824 692592

Molly moved to London from Boston, Massachusetts in the summer of 2012 and quickly found her way to the Thames21 volunteer website.  She volunteered at many Thames21 events and co-founded her own independent clean-up group in her neighbourhood called the Lower Regents Coalition.  She was hired as Thames21’s Training Officer in January 2015.  Her job is to deliver the ‘Leading a Waterway Cleanup’ Training Programme, as well as other modules and workshops all across London.  She will be looking for ways to expand the programme to involve even more people in the work of Thames21.  Molly loves hiking, crafting, listening to music and Buffalo wings.

AJ McConville
Thames River Watch Coordinator
 Tel: 07585 302 623
AJ joined Thames21 in 2015 from the Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) where he worked on the implementation of European biodiversity policy. Very interested in grassroots work, AJ delivered the Trout in the Classroom project in south London for the Wandle Trust alongside his policy duties for two years. AJ has an enthusiastic interest in the outdoors and urban biodiversity. He also plays guitar in a band, these days mostly restricted to friends’ weddings.

Alice Hall
Thames River Watch Coordinator (on maternity leave)
 Tel: 07554 402772

Alice jointly coordinates our ‘Thames River Watch’ project, which engages volunteers in monitoring the health of the tidal Thames. The project aims to help us better understand the challenges that the tidal Thames faces as well as celebrating the healthy aspects of London’s iconic river. Alice also leads Thames21’s work on the Your Tidal Thames project which seeks to involve the tidal Thames community in creating a plan to improve the tidal Thames. She studied Environmental Science at the University of Southampton and has previously worked for the River Restoration Center and the Environment Agency.

Bart Smith
Love the Lea Community Engagement & Education Officer
 Tel: 07500 842 283

Bart joined Thames21 after working as a primary school teacher for four years in Hackney. He wanted to use his classroom experience and knowledge of the National Curriculum to connect children to the outdoors and increase their understanding and empathy with the natural world. Before working as a teacher Bart ran sustainable transport projects in schools for the walking and cycling charity Sustrans; helping young people and families to make transport choices that benefited their health and the environment. In his spare time, Bart enjoys day trips and tours on his bike, swimming in rivers and lakes and listening to BBC Radio 4.

Michael Heath
Personnel Manager
 Tel: 07968 805751

Michael has lived in the Bexley, near to the River Cray for 18 years. He first became involved with the river as a founder member of the Friends of Foots Cray Meadows and became River Cray project officer in 2011. He took up the post of personnel manage in July 2016. Michael is a retired police officer whose other interests include photography, travel and cooking.

Jessica Becher
Thamesmead Canal & River Cray Project Officer
 Tel: 07500 840596

Jess joined Thames21 recently and is excited to undertake her role as the Project Officer for the Thamesmead area and also ensure the River Cray will continue with on-going support. Jess will also co-host the Marsh Dykes Improvement group with the London Wildlife Trust, to ensure the water catchment issues are managed in an integrated manner. Jess, who comes from Australia, previously worked on multiple urban waterway restoration projects. She worked closely with local authorities and at the same time engaging communities. She has a Masters in Integrated Water Catchment Management from the University of Melbourne.

Joanna Barton
Assistant River Cray Project Officer
 Tel: 07827 352675

Joanna volunteered with Thames21 for three years before acquiring her current role. She graduated from Nottingham Trent with a degree in Criminology. She worked for the National Probation Service and the Nottinghamshire Police for a while before realising that she wanted to do something she really loved – which is being around water. Besides waterways, her main passions are going to gigs, arts & crafts and camping.

Karline McCawley
Love the Lea Engagement and Education Officer (on maternity leave)
Tel: 07739 627665

Karli has always held either environmental or education jobs and joining Thames21 as the engagement and education officer with the Love the Lea campaign is a perfect fit! Before joining the team she worked as a Geography/Science teacher in south London and as a project manager with EcoSchools in Canada. Karli is excited to put her Environmental Science, Science Communication and Education degrees to good use by creating some engaging and dynamic sessions for schools and communities along the Lea!

Seren Nelson
Corporate Partnerships Officer
 Tel: 07826 913307

After volunteering and managing projects across the UK and South Africa, Seren has been able to view events from both perspectives. With a diverse background in environmental science, animal behaviour, conservation and climate mitigation she really is enthusiastic in motivating others to understand and care for our environments. She is a keen surfer and enjoys travelling back to her home coastline in South Wales to pursue this.

Melissa Matthews
Communications Manager (on maternity leave)
ph: 07739 627667

Melissa heads up our communications at Thames21 as we seek to inspire and empower people to become increasingly connected to our waterways. Her previous role at WWF in the UAE has piqued her interest in environmental issues. After returning from Dubai she walked the entire 215 mile length of the Thames – just to reconnect with home.

Ian Lamont
Communications Manager (maternity cover)
ph: 07739 627667

Ian has a background as a journalist, publications for PR and digital marketing. An active cricketer and former sports journalist, his love of the outdoors and passion for recycling is behind his desire to use his skills to promote issues involving the environment.

Dr Nathalie Gilbert
INTCATCH Project Manager
 Tel: 07711 701695

Nathalie started with Thames21 as the lab manager responsible for sample collection and water quality analysis. Now she is the INTCATCH Project Manager. This multinational Horizon2020 project aims to develop innovative, user-friendly water monitoring tools to provide real-time data for SMART River monitoring. She has a PhD and a Masters in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia.

Deb Frankiewicz
Welsh Harp Environmental education Centre Education Officer
 Tel: 07711 701694

Deb develops and delivers the fun and interactive education programme to school groups and the local community at the newly acquired Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre in West London. Although initially trained as a Geographical Information Systems Analyst in her home country of Australia, Deb moved to London and soon discovered her excitement and passion for working with children in the outdoors through previous work for UK environmental charities.

Frances Thurgood
Fundraising Manager
 Tel: 07734 871731

Frances has been in the charity sector for more than 25 years and of those she has spent 22 in fundraising. She is experienced in corporate, trust and major donor giving and, in particular, developing corporate partnerships. Most recently, she was Head of Fundraising at Carers UK before before that Corporate and Events Manager for Research Autism (now merged with the National Autistic Society). Living in Lewisham, Frances is well aware of the difference that Thames21’s work has made to the Quaggy, Ravensbourne and Lea.

 

Kirsten Downer
Communications Officer
 Tel: 07711 701696

Yvonne Li
Adminitration Officer
 Tel: 07827 240457

Daniella Levene
Chalkhill Engagement Officer
 Tel: 07501 697096

Victor Richardson
Thames21 Project Officer
 Tel: 07973 442 219