Wader Quest Board of Trustees

Wader Quest is supported in its development by a team of Trustees offering a broad range of skills. The Trustees play an important role, providing guidance on the key decisions and direction taken by Wader Quest. In addition to their individual skills, the Trustees are all passionate about wildlife and its conservation and have a particular passion for waders.


Rick Simpson
Favourite wader: Northern Lapwing

Rick Simpson – Co founder, Board Chair and Trustee liaison on Executive Committee:

A life-long birder having followed a circuitous route to conservation from garden birder as a child, through local patch watcher, British birder, twitcher, world birder and bird guide. It was being a guide in Brazil that led to running local community and school conservation projects with his wife Elis in the Atlantic forest. In addition, he was involved for several years in making twice yearly survey counts of aquatic birds for the Contagem Naçional de Aves Aquáticas (CNAA) for Wetlands International in Brazil.
Rick volunteered at British Natural History Museum bird collection Tring and as a volunteer collector for MZUSP in Brazil. In addition, he has been a bird guide in the UK and Spain for Capital Birding Tours and in Brazil as Rick Simpson Birding Services.

Since returning to the UK Wader Quest has taken over his life, taking him and Elis around the world to six continents, birding on all nine flyways to see one hundred and seventy-eight species of wader; giving talks in many places along the way. Wader Quest has become a conservation effort for a group of birds about which Rick is passionate becoming more and more concerned about the pressures they face and the seemingly low profile their problems have among birders and other wildlife observers.

Rick has had many articles relating to waders and their conservation published and writes blogs and articles for the Wader Quest site, newsletter and the Rick Simpson Birding site. He is a sought-after speaker and amateur bird artist. With Elis he has published three books Eury the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (2016 later translated into Chinese and published in China 2019) for children aged 6-11; An Inspiration of Waders (2019); A Quest for Waders (2020).


Elis Simpson
Favourite wader: White-crowned Lapwing

Elis Simpson – Co-founder, Trustee and Executive Committee member:
Growing up in Brazil with a strong connection to nature and love of pristine, wild environments. Elis became interested in photographing the beautiful birds of Brazil and is now rarely seen in the field without her camera although she insists that she is not a bird photographer but a birder who takes photographs; she always carries her binoculars too.
Starting in Brazil watching the destruction of the Cerrado near her home and latterly travelling the world Elis has become a passionate conservationist and her interest in waders has given that passion direction.

Together with Rick, Elis organised and ran conservation projects in Brazil, including community and school projects as well as the CNAA, twice annual, water bird counts for Wetlands International.

Elis is a prolific photographer with credits on many websites around the world and also in magazines and journals illustrating articles and papers many of which she has co-authored with Rick. With Rick she has also published three books Eury the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (2016 later translated into Chinese and published in China 2019) for children aged 6-11; An Inspiration of Waders (2019); A Quest for Waders (2020).

Elis keeps Wader Quest in touch with the world through social media on numerous Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and twitter pages.


Ian Dearing
Favourite wader: Little Ringed Plover

Ian Dearing – Board Secretary & Trustee:

Ian spent his formative birding years in north London, mainly in the Lee Valley. Rammey Marsh, an old-fashioned sewage works in Enfield, complete with mandatory stench, being his favourite location, owing to the relatively large numbers of waders present, up to 30 Green Sandpipers in mid-summer, at a site close to his home. In the eighties and nineties he birded extensively in the UK, from Shetland to the Scilly Isles, and many places in between, witnessing firsthand Bill Oddie’s seminal (staged) twitch on Fair Isle. The cry of “Red-footed Falcon down by the Kirk”, a Land Rover with a red flag flying were the stuff of the Beebs production team, in case you ever wondered.

On one eventful journey to Minsmere for what wasn’t a Slender-billed Curlew, Ian managed to collapse (through post-operative exhaustion) and when threatened with the kiss-of-life from the bearded Bryan Bland, choose wisely, to wait for the arrival of HM Coastguard, who ferried him back to the relative safety of Sizewell Nuclear Power Station car park. While still recovering from the same operation, he emptied a hide on Brownsea Island while twitching a Western Sandpiper. The aroma of the seaweed infused dressing applied the evening before, became somewhat overpowering for the enclosed birders, with most questioning the origin of the pungent odour. The conclusions ranged widely, from a particularly high tide forcing something unspeakable beneath the hide overnight, to someone enjoying an extraordinarily spicy curry the night before. Needless to say, he escaped the wrath of the gathered throng, and also saw the bird!

After his first foray abroad, to Israel in 1988, the itch which is travel afflicted him greatly, and finding no cure, he continues birding abroad when he can. Now safely ensconced in North Norfolk, Ian divides his time between his young family and birding.

Ray Heaton – Trustee:

As a young schoolboy in the 1960s Ray Heaton witnessed the arrival of little ringed plover as a breeding bird on the colliery flashes in Lancashire. He was part of the Borsdane Wood study group and the Leigh Ringing Group. In the late 1960s Ray was a warden at the Osprey site at Loch Garten for the RSPB. He also assisted at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve when the first aerial bird counts established that large numbers of wintering species of waders used Morecambe Bay, showing it to be a site of international importance. Also at this time he was often to be found on the Mersey and Dee estuaries, especially at Hilbre Island, to see the wintering knots.

Ray has worked in museum natural history work and archaeology, also as a Curator and Conservation Officer, as a Field Studies Centre Warden, a college lecturer (Biological Sciences and Geology) and for the RSPB at Rainham Marshes in London. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Behavioural Ecology and has worked on a variety of ecological consultancy. He has carried out studies on primate behaviour, observing mainly great apes, and on bird behaviour, working mostly on flamingos. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Linnean Society and currently is working on recreating Darwin’s plant experiments. He has collaborated in the work and publication of scientific papers and articles and was researcher and co-author of the Good Zoo Guide (Collins 1991).

Originally elected a Trustee of Chester Zoo (North of England Zoological Society) he has for the past 20 years served as an elected Trustee, including a period as a Vice President, of the Zoological Society of London ZSL.

Extensive travels have enabled him to visit many habitat types and observe wild species in areas such as North America, Hawaii, Canada, East and West Africa, Japan, Sri Lanka, SE Asia, New Zealand, much of Europe and of course the UK.

Ray feels privileged to sometimes watch goshawk and sparrowhawk from his garden, though not many waders!

His favourite wader is the spoon-billed sandpiper. Ray became aware of this bird (and at the same time the ibisbill) more than 40 years ago before serious conservation work on these species started

Elizabeth Anderson – Trustee: Details to follow.

Nicky Fennessey – Trustee: Details to follow.


Wader Quest Executive Committee

Andrew MacGarvey – Chair.

Phil Hadley – Secretary.

Louise Hathaway – Treasurer.

Corinne MacGarvey – Membership Secretary.

Rick Simpson – Trustee liaison.

Dylan Parry-Davies.

Luke Marriner.

Aberdeen Powell.

Elis Simpson.

Ellie Wise.

We are seeking people to join the Executive Committee to be an active part of the charity. If you are interested in finding out more contact rick.simpson@waderquest.net.