Who we are
Since then, as well as building up an impressive client base of private farm and estate clients, Jemma has worked with organisations such as Natural England, the Grazing Animals Project, AONB Partnerships, Local Authorities and the States of Jersey, generally in some kind of farmer engagement role. In 2011, Jemma got the farmers of the Marlborough Downs together and developed the first farmer led landscape-scale project to be funded by Defra - the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area. This was a great success in delivering genuine grass roots action and inspired both the GWCT’s Farmer Clusters and Natural England’s Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund.
Jemma graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Zoology and went on to complete a PhD that encompassed ecology, biospeleology, forensic entomology, and taphonomy. She then achieved competency certificates in chainsaw and winch use, pesticide application, and ATV handling while working as a volunteer. After five years as a lecturer, first at Hartpury and then Lackham, followed by a brief interlude as a researcher with the BBC Natural History Unit, Jemma joined the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency working on the original Countryside Stewardship Scheme in 2000. She left after a year for a role as agri-environment consultant with Greenlink Forestry before setting up Black Sheep in 2002.
Simon joined Black Sheep in
Debbie's hobbies have always involved animals, having had horses for many years. Her love of horses developed during her family's military period in Cyprus, and learning to ride on the beaches of Cyprus is one of her childhood highlights.
Debbie set up her own business in 2010 running a part time pet care agency and it was through this that she met Jemma. In 2016 Debbie joined Black Sheep providing event management and office support to the various projects, and enjoys being part of a team that is so committed to her own passion for improving biodiversity and protecting wildlife in the countryside.
Having had a military upbringing, Debbie's family finally settled in Wiltshire when she was fourteen years old. After finishing school, she studied for a BTEC in Business and Finance and her interests and strengths led her to towards the marketing, PR and design industry which is where most of her early career was focused, during which she was involved in some very interesting and varied roles with major blue chip companies.
Debbie had a career break in 1998 to look after her two children, and then became involved with the local school charity, chairing the PTA from 2003 for six years.