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Meet the team

Sarah Pitt, Chair of CPRE Avon and Bristol

Sarah Pitt
Chair, CPRE Avon and Bristol


There are many demands on our countryside, we need it to produce healthy food; support communities and wildlife and offer us green spaces in which to enjoy our leisure and build wellbeing.

In the past year CPRE Avon and Bristol, has been successful in attracting substantial funding to support these aims.  The ”Hedgerow Heroes” project trains volunteers to regenerate old hedgerows and plant new ones.  The team work with landowners and farmers to manage hedgerows as vital corridors for wildlife and places which lock up carbon and alleviate flooding.

We would like to see reform in the planning system but for nearly a century CPRE has worked constructively with MP’s; local authorities; individuals and local groups to challenge unwise housing development on green fields.  We will continue to do so.

2024 will almost certainly be an Election Year and CPRE Avon and Bristol will be speaking to candidates from all parties and lobbying not only for the protection of the countryside but ensuring it is accessible to everyone.

If you care what happens to rural life in Britain and you’d like to be part of helping nature to recover, then just click ‘Join Us’ on this website to find out more about CPRE and how you might help. Each one of us can make a difference!

Mary Jane Wilshire

Director, CPRE Avon and Bristol


Mary-Jane Wilshire has a life long connection to the Countryside having grown up on a hill farm in rural Wales between the towns of Aberystwyth and Machynlleth. Mary-Jane studied Geography and for a while taught in secondary schools but later retrained in Protected Landscape Management. Mary-Jane has a passion for supporting people to come together to make positive changes in their community and local environment. She believes that if we are serious about nature recovery, climate resilience and health inclusion, we must start in the places where we live, work and enjoy.

She worked for Natural Resource Wales, Groundwork, Learning Through Landscapes, The Royal Town Planning Institute and Bristol City Council. The common thread across her work is bringing communities and professionals together to advocate for fairer more sustainable outcomes for the places we care about.

“I am very excited about working with the highly skilled volunteer networks in CPRE Avon and Bristol to bring the national CPRE campaign to the local level, while also taking strong action on local issues that are affecting our Countryside in West of England”

If you wish to contact Mary-Jane Wilshire, please do so on

Tel: 07854 741130

Sonia Parsons

Hedgerow Heroes


Sonia grew up in the countryside on a dairy farm in Dorset. She studied Zoology at the University of Reading and has been working in conservation for the past 4 years.

“Being outdoors doing practical conservation work is what I’m passionate about, so I’m thrilled to be leading the Hedgerow Heroes project for CPRE Avon and Bristol for another year. Hedgerows are an underrated asset of the countryside that make our landscape unique and are the home for so many important and declining species of birds, insects and mammals. Conserving and improving the health of hedgerows we already have is just as important as planting new ones.”


You can get in touch with Sonia at:

Phoebe Barker

Information and Communication Coordinator


Phoebe has spent the majority of her childhood growing up in the countryside of Gloucestershire. Having completed a Bachelors of Science in International Development, she is now keen to use the skills she’s learnt to benefit wildlife and green spaces near where she lives.

Phoebe has experience in Communications through her extensive volunteer work. Here at CPRE Avon and Bristol, she is in charge of our seasonal newsletter, our social media channels, and is currently working to get people to our Rooftop Renewables workshop in Bristol in February.

“As the newest member of the CPRE Avon and Bristol team, I’m keen to bring my skills in Communications to connect with our communities, and share the importance of protecting our green spaces!”

If you’re interested in any of Phoebe’s projects you can get in touch with her at: 


Sarah Sawyer

Hedgerow Heroes


“I have always loved the countryside and spent my childhood, climbing trees, building dens and immersed in the woodland and farmland of the Forest of Dean where I grew up. Passionate about birds I joined the Young Ornithologists Club and my first paid job in conservation, was as a Field Teacher with the RSPB. I spent 13 years with the Wye Valley AONB, running a wide range of projects that created landscape enhancement, nature recovery and promoted greater public understanding of the Wye Valley’s unique landscape characteristics. More recently I have worked for Natural England as Team leader of Landscape, Heritage and Geodiversity Team within Strategy and Government Advice. I commenced my role at CPRE Avon and Bristol in July joining Sonia Parsons to assist the roll out of Hedgerow Heroes to Bath and Nort East Somerset. In 2023 – 24 we will enable and support landowners to restore and maintain hedgerows, making a positive contribution to Nature Recovery Targets. I am looking forward to playing my part to achieve our shared goals.”