The charity making life better by water

Executive team

The executive team manage the everyday operation of the Trust.

They develop policy and strategy for approval by the trustees and are responsible for ensuring the continuing success of the waterways through the management of an expert and committed team of 1,600 employees and thousands of volunteers.

You can also view our full organisational structure.

Richard Parry, chief executive

Richard Parry, chief executive

Richard joined Canal & River Trust as chief executive in July 2013, and has led the new charity through a series of changes as it has developed its new identity and explored the many new opportunities available in the third sector. Prior to joining the Trust, Richard spent 19 years at London Underground - where he was acting managing director for a year - followed by a brief spell at FirstGroup's Railway Division.

Heather Clarke

Heather Clarke, strategy, engagement & impact director

Heather is currently strategy, engagement & impact director at the Canal & River Trust. Heather has executive accountability for: developing, driving & communicating the Trust's overall strategic direction; building the Trust's strategic plans, campaigns and evidence base; growing our supporter base and our statutory and voluntary income; engaging with key policy and decision makers, partners and stakeholders at different spatial levels; as well as influencing outcome generation and placemaking through planning and design.

She oversees: strategy; marketing and supporter development; policy and public affairs; insight and evidence; strategic performance and reporting; spatial and statutory planning functions; and planning and urban design consultancy functions within the Trust. Heather joined British Waterways (the predecessor to the Trust) in 1997, after working for an urban development corporation which was charged with delivering large scale area-based urban regeneration in the Black Country. A chartered town and regional planner, with a MSC in Historic Conservation and postgraduate diploma qualification in urban design, she has gained extensive experience in strategic and statutory planning, property-based urban regeneration, place-making and partnership working with the Trust. Heather is a trustee director of the Roundhouse in Birmingham.

Steve Dainty, finance director

Steve Dainty, finance director

Steve spent over twenty years in the private sector, most recently at GKN plc where he held several finance and general management positions with global responsibility. Prior to this, he was employed by KPMG as part of the UK audit and advisory team, where he qualified as a chartered accountant. Steve joined the Trust in 2019 and has responsibility for finance, procurement and IT.

Man in jumper posing for photo on a canal towpath on a sunny day with green trees surrounding

Tom Deards, legal & governance director

Tom has responsibility for the legal and governance functions of the Trust. He is a qualified solicitor who joined the Trust's legal team in 2007, having trained and qualified at city law firm Clifford Chance, before going on to complete a Legal Masters at UCL in environmental law, whilst working as an environment and planning lawyer in local government. Tom is the Trust's company secretary and data protection officer and also sits on the waterway ombudsman committee.

Anne Gardner Aston

Anne Gardner-Aston, director of health & safety

Anne joined the Trust in September 2021 having spent 25 years as a health and safety specialist in a variety of organisations, including the Metropolitan Police and a large housing developer. She is responsible for working with colleagues to ensure the Trust complies with its health and safety legal obligations, and setting the strategic direction and framework for continuous improvement in safety performance and culture.

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Maggie Gardner, fundraising director

Maggie has over 20 years' experience in executive roles in fundraising, marketing and communications. She joined the Trust in February 2023 to lead the vital development of our fundraising activities to grow our income and fund our essential work to care for the waterways.

Prior to joining the Trust, she spent 15 years as a director at global development charity Practical Action, and more recently working with the Freedom Fund, a global US-based anti-slavery charity, and in consultancy. She has also held a wide range of non-executive /trustee positions including at the New Economics Foundation, ExtraCare Charitable Trust and the University of Northampton.

She's a lifelong lover of canals – as a walker, canal side pub goer and occasional narrowboat holidaymaker.

Man posing for photo in a suit on a sunny day

Malcolm Horne, chief infrastructure and programmes officer

Malcolm joined the Trust in March 2022 to oversee all asset management and engineering delivery. This includes the Trust's in-house construction teams, supply chain partners and programme management office. He is a chartered civil engineer, active in professional bodies such as CIWEM and the ICE.

Prior to joining the Trust, Malcolm spent 14 years at Severn Trent, most recently as Head of Water Quality and Environment, delivering environmental enhancements, as well as being accountable for all public health oversight and primary liaison with the EA, NRW and the DWI. Other roles included economic regulation, infrastructure delivery, asset management and cross-company transformation programmes. Malcolm started his career designing and installing small scale hydropower in Nepal before returning to the UK where the first half of his career was in consultancy, across multiple sectors and disciplines.

Susie Mather, director of communications and external relations

Susie Mather, director of communications and external relations

Susie joined the Trust in June 2023, having held several roles in communications, strategy and government relations, including for the Crown Estate and the Atomic Weapons Establishment, part of the Ministry of Defence. Prior to that, she was a member of the Diplomatic Service and spent many years working overseas on behalf of the UK government, predominantly in central Europe and Asia. At the Trust, Susie looks after all aspects of communications and external relations. She has responsibility for shaping and delivering the communications and engagement strategy, working closely with colleagues to build and maintain the Trust's voice, and engaging with a broad range of external stakeholders.

Stuart Mills

Stuart Mills, chief investment officer

Stuart is responsible for the Trust's principal commercial income sources including the investment portfolio of property, joint ventures and diversified assets. Stuart also looks after the utilities, commercial water and direct managed moorings businesses, as well as our business boating relationships. A chartered surveyor, Stuart joined Canal & River Trust in 1990 after working in private sector property consultancy. He has worked extensively across the country in various commercial roles, before becoming a director in 2008.

Karen Seth

Karen Seth, people director

Karen joined the Canal & River Trust as people director in July 2021, with executive accountability for key areas such as human resources, organisational development, internal communications and colleague reward. Prior to joining the Trust Karen spent seven years as people director at the Co-operative Group across food, funeral care and legal services. She has also led on the people aspects of the Co-operative wide operating model programme.

Karen has extensive experience, having spent seventeen years at Sainsburys as part of the human resources team covering many roles, such as employee relations, industrial relations and organisational development. Karen is a non-executive director for the NHS Business Services Authority and is a trustee director for Reubens Retreat Charity based in Glossop, as well as being a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


Julie Sharman, chief operating officer

Julie is responsible for the operational management and performance of the Trust's rivers and canals, including all aspects of customer services, volunteering and engagement. Julie joined the Trust in 1996 following an early career in construction with Taylor Woodrow and Aoki-Soletanche. A chartered civil engineer, she has gained a broad experience in waterway management, asset management, engineering, partnerships and funding with the Trust.

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Last Edited: 25 January 2024

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