Our People

Meet our Board of Trustees, Executive Officer, day-to-day operational team and expert contributors to York Conservation Trust.

We are part of a community and conservation tradition dating back to the early part of the twentieth century. Today, we hold firm to the ideals of the original organisation’s founders, the brothers, John Bowes Morrell and Cuthbert Morrell, in playing an influential role in York’s current and future built heritage.


Our trustees are committed to the original ideals of founders Dr John Bowes Morrell and his brother Cuthbert, in supporting York's rich built heritage for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

Dr Charles Butler, Trustee

“I became a director of York Conservation Trust in 1988. I completed a business degree at Trinity College, Dublin and qualified as a solicitor in the mid 1990s. Along the way I also obtained a LLM from UCL and a PhD in law. I am currently Head of Legal for a European technology human resources company.

“I believe the Trust has adapted well to the changes and challenges it has faced over the years and is now well placed for the future, as the Board has put in place a strong executive and management team with a commercial and heritage background. The Trust must be receptive to new ideas and challenges in the heritage and conservation space.

“I have found such enjoyment in helping preserve the built heritage and community for the citizens of York and the nation at large. I very much hope that my family will stay involved closely with the Trust, which was set up by my great grandfather and his brother, well into the future.”

Patricia Anne Butler, Trustee

"I was fortunate to meet the founder of the trust, John Bowes Morrell, a number of times. Imbued with guarding the treasures of the past, he was also anxious that we should act as guardians for the future, particularly in relation to York's buildings. This I have tried to do, serving as a Trustee and Director for many years on the board of York Conservation Trust.

"Educated at both Trinity College and University College, Dublin, I have worked in both public and national galleries, including the National Gallery of Ireland and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. I have lectured and published extensively on both art and architecture, including a commissioned history of Ireland's National Concert Hall. I am member of the National Gallery of Ireland Fellowship Board, the Wicklow Heritage Forum and am an active member of a number of societies connected with heritage."


Vanessa Morrell Butler, Trustee

“Being asked to join the Board of Trustees was a great honour and complimented my interest in people and place, and how our landscape and built environment speaks about us.

“Graduating from Trinity College Dublin in Natural Science and University College Cork in Heritage Management, I have been involved in many historic conservation projects obtaining a Gulbenkian Foundation Award for my work with Dalkey Castle. Currently my work is with the National Museum of Ireland.

“My focus is education and to further engage with young people and the university of York. With the Trust’s long history, founded in 1945 by my great grandfather Dr John Bowes Morrell, I would like to continue benefiting York’s built heritage and community.”

Anna Gawthorp, Trustee

"Raised in Yorkshire and graduating from Durham University with a BSc in Archaeology, I began my career in consultancy, PR, marketing, communications and fundraising, I joined the Board of York Conservation Trust in 2023.  I am a former Communications Director for the National Science Learning Centre, jointly funded by the Department for Education and the Wellcome Trust, and a Director of External Relations for Myscience.

"Most recently I have been working at STEM Learning as a Strategic Partnerships Lead, creating and executing a campaign to secure £5.6 million in fundraising for the ENTHUSE Charitable Trust. Reconnecting me with my roots in archaeology and heritage, I look forward to working with my fellow Trustees as York Conservation Trust evolves, fit for the 21st century and able to realise new opportunities and ambitious targets."


James Morrell, Chair of Trustees

"I left Nottingham University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and began my career working for BAE Systems and then have spent the last 12 years working in the insurance industry within the field of Risk Engineering.

“A Board member for York Conservation Trust since 2000, I am also a Trustee for the York Common Good Trust, which awards grants to small charities in and around the City, which was set up by my grandfather William Bowes Morrell. Today, I live just outside York with my wife and two children."

Jeremy Morrell, Trustee

“I joined the board of the York Conservation Trust in my early twenties, while studying for a BSc in Psychology at University in London. I have many happy memories of time spent with my grandmother when she was living at Ingram House in York and the family cottage at Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors, still both residential properties of the Trust today.

“I work in high growth markets, business development and marketing and, initially with PwC, I now work with global law firm Baker McKenzie leading business development across Africa. Based currently in South Africa, I keep up to date with the Trust’s work and support the executive team and Board whenever possible, given the distance between Johannesburg and York.”

Margaret Morrell, Trustee

“I was appointed as Trustee of the York Conservation Trust in the early 1990s. My background is in health. I trained at the Royal Salop Infirmary in Shrewsbury, before undertaking the first part of my career as a Radiographer in South Africa, where I spent much time travelling.

“On returning to the UK with my family, I then focused solely on raising my three children. I am also a Trustee on the board of the C&JB Morrell Trust, which promotes the grant assisted advancement of education and also supports the Morrell Centre for Toleration in the University of York’s Department of Politics.”

Olivia Morrell, Trustee

“I joined the Trust in my early 20s whilst studying Pharmacology at Newcastle University. I am very proud of the amazing legacy that my great grandfather and grandfather left in the City of York and feel privileged to be a Trustee.

“Since university, I have worked in both the private and public sector, including four years in the Household of the then Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. I am currently a Civil Servant, having worked in a number of varied and interesting roles, including as Assistant Private Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Head of Public Appointments in DCMS and Head of Honours Policy in the Cabinet Office.

“In my spare time, I love music and co-ran a music festival for 14 years called Blissfields as well as setting up the first music festival in the Okavango Delta in 2018. I am also a Trustee of the C&JB Morrell Trust.”

Ruth Morrell, Trustee

“I first came across the legacy of Dr John Bowes Morrell when I was studying for a Masters in Medieval English and borrowing books from the Morrell Library at the University of York.

“I joined the Board of Trustees of York Conservation Trust in 2016, having recently retired from a career in pain management working with the NHS. I find the work of the Trust over the years extraordinary; the number of buildings it has rescued and refurbished and the commitment to the people of York to keep those buildings alive.

“Currently, my focus is on the Trust's archives. Working alongside Lizzie Taylor, we are sorting through the vast wealth of information to create a searchable database to ensure the tracking and availability of information, together with better methods of future curation.”

Operational Team

Directing our current operations and future planning, our small, dedicated team work daily with conservation experts, artisans, tenants, business people, City of York Council and an expanding range of interested parties from York, the UK and abroad.

Guy Bowyer, Chief Executive Officer

“I Graduated from the University of Newcastle and became a Chartered Architect in 2005. Having previously worked for W R Dunn & Co I joined York Conservation Trust in 2015 to oversee several major conservation and refurbishment projects, including York Theatre Royal, The Assembly Rooms, 69/71 Micklegate, 14/16 Lendal, The House of Trembling Madness and the De Grey Rooms complex.

“In 2020 I obtained RIBA Conservation Architect accreditation. Taking over the role of CEO in 2023, together with our dedicated small team, my job is to work closely with our Trustees, tenants, partners and stakeholders to ensure our historic buildings can be viably occupied today and in the future.”

Richard Fearnley, Assistant Buildings Manager

“I joined the Trust’s Buildings Team from York Science Park, where I had been working in facilities management for four years.

“My early technical training was followed by experience in York’s hospitality sector and from that I developed an interest in York’s historic buildings. One of my key roles for the Trust is to support both our tenants and tradesmen, and also to ensure that our historic buildings comply with all appropriate occupation regulations.”

Tony Leonard, Buildings Manager

“An Architectural Technologist, I have experience with interesting and historic buildings in England, Australia, USA, Vietnam and Barbados.

“I cut my conservation teeth in York with Martin Stancliffe Architects and, before joining the Trust in 2021, had been a project manager at Purcell Conservation Architects in its York office.

“Today, I manage the building maintenance and repair programme and support applications for listed building consents, required before works of any significance can commence.”

Kelly Storrer, Operations Administrator

“I fell in love with British history after reading about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd as a child. After graduating from The University of Cape Town with a degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, I worked in the data analysis team of a large South African retailer for over a decade before moving to England.

"I spent some time volunteering for the Trust (an excuse to read through their trove of historical documents) before taking up a permanent job at the University of York.

"In February 2024 I was delighted to join the Trust full-time supporting Lizzie and the rest of the team in my role as Operations Administrator.”

Lizzie Taylor, Operations Manager

“I joined the Trust in 2019 as a volunteer, while a full time Retail Manager of the Oliver Bonas store in Stonegate, York.

“My volunteer project was to tackle the archive, which had, over the years, grown rather more in volume than substance! This has given me a fascinating picture of the Trust’s past and interest in its business model.

“During 2020 I successfully applied for the new role of Operations Manager with responsibility across commercial and residential tenants’ liaison for rent income and day-to-day running of the business.”

Jackie Turpin, Finance Manager

“I am a qualified Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in the charity field, much of that in York.

“Before joining the Trust in 2020 I was Head of Finance at Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, independent examiner for Mount School (York) Foundation and had non-executive roles at Church Investors Group and the Retreat in York.

“I now run the Trust’s finance function on slightly less than a full-time basis in order to take up my creative pen, I’m working on a novel!”


We are supported by experts in their field from York and around the UK. Contributing to our work and feeding into our better understanding of people and place.

Peter Brown, MBE, FSA, Research Associate University of York

“I was Educated at Sheffield and Leeds before working for the National Trust and latterly as Director of York Civic Trust. During my time with York Civic Trust, we mounted over 20 exhibitions at Fairfax House in York, some touring to London and Norwich. The last, in 2012, was Views of York- a portrait of the City, 1600-present day, with an attendant best-selling 230 page book.”

Jacky Fitt, FRSA

“I began my career in theatre design, graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, followed by film and television production, before becoming a copywriter and author. Co-founder of The Big Ideas Collective communication agency, my second book, How to Be in Business was published in March 2024.

“Living in Yorkshire for most of my life, I help people make the best use of their means to attract, inform and engage in print and online. With particular interest in conservation and sustainability, I research, write, edit and curate the Trust's search engine optimised web content, news articles, features and project updates."

The Big Ideas Collective     

Geoff Maybank, FRICS Accredited IHBC

“Born in Lancashire and growing up in the South East and South Wales, I started life as a valuer and general practice surveyor, becoming a partner of Ryder and Dutton in Manchester in 1982 and spent much of my early career dealing with buildings of all size and use.

"In 1995 I gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Building Conservation from Reading University and began working particularly in the repair of historic listed buildings.

"In 2011 I established Maybank Buildings Conservation with Dr Dav Smith and today offer expert consultation for difficult and complex multi-phased historic buildings repair. After 20 years as an external lecturer in Building Conservation at the University of York, in 2022 I was delighted to be made an Honorary Fellow of the University”.

Maybank Conservation Website

Colin McLean, LRPS

“I am a freelance photographer based in the Scottish Borders. Contributing images to exhibitions, books, magazines, journals and the media, my practice concentrates on historic buildings, places and the natural environment, to which I bring a degree in architectural history and a career in the heritage sector.

“This knowledge allows me to combine an understanding of my subject with my photographic skills. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, I was delighted to be recognised with an award of distinction by the Royal Photographic Society.”

Colin McLean photography website

Dr Dav Smith, MCIfa

“I grew up in Australia but was always fascinated by British history and particularly by historic buildings. After reading medieval history at Melbourne University, I travelled extensively through Europe before settling in the UK. Having photographed hundreds of historic buildings in my travels I returned to study, gaining my MA in Archaeology of Buildings and a PhD from the University of York, in the Victorian rebuilding of medieval parish churches.

“Today, I divide my time between lecturing in Historic Buildings at the University of York and working commercially as a buildings archaeologist at Maybank Buildings Conservation specialising in the analysis and repair of complex historic buildings.”

Maybank Conservation Website

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