Beechbrae is guided by a board of committed individuals with a range of expertise, skills and perspectives.
Jenny Johnson has worked for 35 years in forestry and rural development and currently works for Scottish Natural Heritage. Born in Wiltshire in 1957, she graduated in Ecological Sciences from the Universities of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania in 1980 and has since pursued a wide-ranging career in the public, private and charitable sectors.Her forestry experience was gained in Africa during the 1980s while working for the Department for International Development. Back in Britain she specialised in forestry economics, becoming the University of Edinburgh’s first female lecturer in forest economics in 1988.
Since the 1990s Jenny has undertaken research and consultancy for a number of research organisations, including the société générale de surveillance and the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation. She has been a Director of Reforesting Scotland, Chair of Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Woodlands Association and a Trustee of the Millennium Forest for Scotland. She has worked for the charities: Just World Partners, The Corrom Trust, the UK Forestry Accord and the Forest Stewardship Council. For 7 years she was Editor of Scottish Forestry, journal of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. She lives in Linlithgow.
In her introduction to Beechbrae, Jenny has been impressed by the inspirational and passionate commitment of the project’s managers and board. She fully supports the project’s vision and values and is particularly interested in the educational and cultural opportunities that it offers to place communities in touch with the natural world.
Manna Dobó, B.Ed M.Phil CT
Born in Budapest in 1963, Hungarian teacher-artist, Manna has lived in Blackridge since 1987. She graduated in Mathematics and Art from Szeged, Hungary. She has taught painting, drawing and design in Bo’ness Academy and exhibited her work in Scotland for the last two decades. Her book, Visual Education, was published in 2011 in Germany.
Manna appreciates the potential educational value of Beechbrae in reaching out to pupils of all ages, but especially to pupils of all backgrounds and needs. Outdoor Education, is proven by countless Educational Research projects to be one of the most effective ways of achieving a cohesive community and promoting life-long effective learning. She is also fully supportive of the Beechbrae Project because the activities proposed and facilitated by the long-term plans would undoubtedly provide a natural, and effective, meeting space for all local residents, young and all, to encounter the wider, including nation/world-wide, community with all it offers in the form of exchange of relevant ideas, outlooks and creative activities. Incidentally, she also happens to love bugs and flowers and trees.
Paul McCormack was born in Paisley,1959. He graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1983 and worked for over thirty years in commercial architecture on a wide variety of long-term projects. He has been a self-employed Architect since moving to Blackridge, where he was first introduced to Beechbrae. As a board member, he fully supports all the principles that this project encompasses and is interested in its sustainability in relation to the wider community, which hopefully will be passed on for future generations.
During his previous working life, he has been a lecturer at Strathclyde University, Department of Architecture and during a three year sabbatical from his professional commercial life as an architect, he was a tutor for many community groups in the Art of Digital Photography and Desktop Publishing, along with other creative workshops for the Workers Educational Association and North and South Lanarkshire Councils. He has had two books of poetry published by Lapwing Press of Belfast under the pen name of Frank Gillougley. His website is at www.paulgerardmccormackarchitect.wordpress.com
Tom has a background in education, youthwork, and horticulture and has spent the last few years successfully engaging people of all walks of life in growing food in their local communities. He’s particularly interested in the role that food (growing, cooking and eating) can play in providing a focal point for communities. He’s currently working to support Granton Community Gardeners, (North Edinburgh) a group he helped found in 2010. They are a group of local residents who work together to grow food on neglected land, and host shared meals and community events. In their area there is lots of land (in small parcels that local authority mostly sees as a maintenance burden), lots of people (it’s a fairly high density housing scheme), lots of need for better food supply (eg. 3 heavily used foodbanks), and a good amount of local support. So they’re living in the middle of this puzzle, and running experiments with the interesting opportunities and complexities it presents! Tom brings a range of skills and experiences to Beechbrae and is particularly helpful with community engagement and food growing.