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Meet Our Trustees

Bill Makins - Founder & Trustee

Bill Makins is a visionary conservationist. Alongside farming his Norfolk property, Pensthorpe, he created a truly sustainable gravel extraction process creating one of the most bio-diverse nature reserves in England. Bill has been interested in wildfowl and rare species since childhood. In the 1960s he spent time in Kenya learning about stockmanship of both birds and mammals. His passion has taken him the world over. Each destination brought new discoveries as well as rewards. Pygmy Geese and other rare ducks and geese from North America, Chile and Iceland arrived and thrived. Bill has spent his life devoting his experience and enthusiasm to actively promoting the conservation of endangered birds. 

Bill’s passion is now firmly focused on the Turtle Dove Trust (Charitable Trust No. 1186288) which he founded in 2019 along with Edward Pope and Chris Knights so as to raise awareness of and garner support for this unique species.  Bill intends to prove captive breeding and a highly active release program will be the successful path forward to secure the future of the Turtle Dove here in the United Kingdom. Currently at the Turtle Dove Trust Breeding Centre based in North Suffolk more than 200 captive bred Turtle Doves are forming the basis of the Trust’s foundation breeding stock. 

Chris Knights - Trustee

A farmer-naturalist and wildlife photographer, Chris Knights is native to Norfolk and has had an interest in wildlife from childhood. Now retired, Chris used to run a 9,500-acre arable farm at Gooderstone, near Swaffham. His interest in photography started in the 1950s and in the late 1960s he met Sir Peter Scott and together they made several films for Survival Anglia. In pursuit of photography, Chris has travelled the globe: North America, Australia, East Africa, Europe and the Arctic. Chris, like his friend Bill Makins, has previous experience of wildlife conservation; he was largely responsible for saving the Stone Curlew from extinction in East Anglia. The initial and urgent work for this summer migrant and breeder was pioneered by Chris before being taken over by the RSPB. Now worried about the plight of the Turtle Dove, Chris has become a trustee in support of the Turtle Dove Trust’s values and objectives.

Edward Pope - Trustee

Brought up on a family farm in Norfolk, Edward Pope is a passionate conservationist. Having travelled extensively to Africa, his passion for conservation extends far and wide; he has created the Watatunga Wildlife Reserve which specialises in threatened bird and ungulate species. As a huge admirer of Sir Peter Scott and Bill Makins in the exciting and maverick approaches they took to conservation, particularly of wildfowl, Edward jumped at the chance to work alongside Bill when asked to become a trustee of the Turtle Dove Trust. On visiting Chris Knights’ photographic gallery many years ago and having shared so much in common as a keen naturalist and arable farmer himself, Edward has always admired Chris for his combination of wildlife conservation together with impressive farming operations and a huge talent for wildlife photography. It is hoped that the beautiful call and flash of colour from the Turtle Dove will not just be a distant memory of Edward’s time in Africa but commonplace back in the UK.