The National Flood Forum is a charity governed by a Board of non-executive Trustees and operates through a small team of professional staff. It has a commercial operating arm, NFF Services CIC, recently created to generate funding for the Charity.

Meet the team

The National Flood Forum has a team of staff all of whom are dedicated  to helping people at risk of flooding.

Paul Cobbing MBE

Chief Executive

Paul has spent his career working on environmental issues, the first 20 years on a range of land management projects in the private and public sectors.

Read More
In 2001 he moved to Government Office for the West Midlands working on the Government’s environmental policy, including rural, food and drink, sustainable development, climate change, water, waste, energy and natural environment. This included leading on several regional projects.

Paul moved to Defra to lead negotiations on agreeing targets with local authorities before undertaking a number of consultancy projects, including a climate change adaptation risk assessment on the Humber Estuary and contributing to the West Midlands Local Authority Low Carbon Economy Programme and a Mainstreaming Community Economic Development Project.

Paul is the West Midlands convenor of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, is a Director at Localise West Midlands and sits on the Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committee for the West Midlands.  He has been Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum since October 2011.

Heather Shepherd

Community and Recovery Support

Heather joined The National Flood Forum in 2006 as a Director on the Board. In 2007 she became a member of staff specialising in working with Communities.

Read More
Heather lives in Shropshire in a small rural village in the Upper Severn Catchment Area. Her village suffered flooding in1998, twice in 2000, 2002, & 2004.

Heather’s personal experience of flooding was convoluted by an array of adversities in the process of reinstating her family home, which resulted in the family living in a caravan for a year.

Heather in partnership with a neighbour formed a Community Flood Action Group to address the issues of flooding in the area and work towards reducing the villages flood risk. The group managed to achieve obtaining a pre-feasibility study for a defence for the village.  Unfortunately this sits on the shelf at the Environment Agency with no funding available to proceed it any further, rural areas suffering from lack of residents to make funding fit the cost benefits!

In 2007 Yorkshire suffered catastrophic floods. Heather with a fellow National Flood Forum board member went immediately to work voluntarily for several months in the recovery of the area, supporting those who had suffered flooding in their homes. Following this period, Heather was employed to work with Communities for the National Flood Forum.

In 2009 Cumbria suffered unprecedented rainfall which resulted in flooding devastation. Heather arrived the following day and remained in Cumbria for sixteen months supporting communities, adapting to their needs through the different stages of the recovery process. Culminating in her bringing together communities in partnership with those authorities with responsibility for managing flood risk. Her tireless commitment resulted in her being nominated for Radio 4’s iPM awards.

Heather works with communities the length and breadth of England & Wales, helping them find the right path to move forward proactively to reduce their flood risk.  She also brings awareness to those communities that haven’t flooded but are at risk; helping them to be prepared should such an event occur. Heather’s unique experience in working in Recovery after major flood events across the Country with colleagues, has highlighted the diversity and expertise of the work that The National Flood Forum are able to give on the subject of floods.

Jean Timmins

Administrative Assistant

Jean joined NFF in April 2014 to work on the administration side at the Bewdley Office.

Read More
Jean has lived in the area for 13 years and is aware of the devastation flooding can cause both on a wider community scale and through the experiences of friends whose properties have been flooded.

Jayne Paget

Administrative Assistant

Jayne has worked in the Bewdley Head Office since 2009 and handles the Blue Pages Directory together with other office requirements.

Read More
Jayne also works at dhjh Tenbury Wells LLP and has experienced flooding events  there.

Sarah Parkington

Community Flood Resilience Project Officer

I have worked for the National Flood Forum since July 2013 as a Community Flood Resilience Officer as part of the Defra funded Pathfinder project for areas in Liverpool and Rochdale.

Read More
This role has since been extended to help keep supporting the flood action groups developed in these areas and raising the matter of flood resilience wider in the North-West.

I graduated from Edge Hill University with a BSc in Geography and Geological Science and have always been interested in the interaction between humans and the natural environment which has been reflected in my past employment as I was a Park Ranger for 3 years and still help run a Children’s Wildlife Trust Watch group. My university course also gave me the opportunity to travel to many places including the glaciers of Norway and the volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands. After University I also spent a year travelling around New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.

Although I have not been personally affected by flooding, I have interviewed numerous people affected during my time working at a waste water engineering consultants. Flood asset data, along with personal accounts, were collected to create realistic models so that accurate solution modelling could be developed. Some of the projects progressed to have flood mitigation measures created; however, I am well aware of the devastating effect that flooding has from my contact with affected people, not just during the event and the resulting damage, but also from the long-term effects of worry and recurring costs. I am enjoying working in flood mitigation again from more of a community perspective to help build greater understanding of, and resilience to, flooding problems.

Outside of work, I enjoy salsa classes, socialising with friends, attending a variety of music concerts and comedy shows and still trying to tick off more places on my travel wish list!

Sanjay Johal

Community Flood Resilience Project Officer

I joined the National Flood Forum team in 2016.  My keen interest and passion for supporting the community’s role in response to risk and disaster is why I became a flood resilience officer.

Read More
For my undergraduate degree I studied BSc Geography and Environmental studies. I chose this major due to my interest in the environment and how we as humans impact this environment with our societies and urban areas. I wanted to learn about our connection with the physical environment and the consequences of our actions on it. In my undergraduate studies I researched and learned about physical processes such as Earthquakes, Hurricanes, floods and a host of other geographical disaster events. My undergraduate thesis focused on how individuals were affected psychologically after a flood event.

After graduating I worked in China as an ESL teacher. China is an ever evolving and dynamic country that I wanted to explore and understand in more depth. My time in China taught me the value of creating connections with people that can help them sustain their autonomy.

After graduating from my MSc in Hazard & Disaster Management last year, I felt that I would like to work for a progressive organisation, as my passion is to deliver help and support to people who need it. I feel that creating networks in which we can deliver quick and precise help to people when they need it the most, is both a fulfilling and rewarding career. My MSc thesis focused on identifying trends in social media support groups for flood victims after a flood event.

I have previously worked in social housing, helping vulnerable elderly tenants live a more independent lifestyle.

In my spare time, I enjoy Travelling (Asia, South-East Asia, Europe), Cricket, hiking, squash, and running.

Michelle Steel photo 30-1-2018

Michelle Steel

Project Officer for Great Yarmouth

I have recently joined the National Flood Forum team (January 2018) and will be initially supporting communities in the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston areas within Norfolk.

Read More
Living in Norfolk close to a river and the Norfolk Broads means that I have been affected by flooding and seen first hand how it significantly impacts, and the devastating effect on individuals and communities.  I am therefore very excited and proud to be part of the National Flood Forum and supporting Norfolk communities.

My background is in Social Care, Education and Museums.   I am an experienced project manager and love working with communities and individuals.  I have a hons degree in English History and specialised in the Norman Conquest of 1066.  I play an active part of the community I live in by being part of the various social groups including the writers group.  I am also part of the fete committee and have been a school governor and parish councillor.

In my spare time I love being with my family and pets (2 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats) walking and maintaining my home and large garden.  I am particularly interested in the environment and do what I can to help it.  I have many

Deborah Hall

Community Flood Resilience Project Officer

I graduated from the University of Wales with a degree in Biological and Biochemical Sciences in 1998 before moving to Somerset to take up a position in Wessex Water.

Read More
I worked as the Area Scientist for the Taunton Deane and West Somerset area covering over 150 sewage treatment works and an area of just under 400 square miles.

It was while I was in this role that I had my first experience of flooding during the devastating floods affecting Somerset in 2000. The peak of this flood was so severe that much of the centre of Taunton was completely cut off from any main routes and many of the outlying villages were under several feet of water. My office, laboratory and the mess room at Taunton Sewage Works was also severely flooded, with the flood levels reaching the first floor of the office building. The damage and devastation that this flood caused was both shocking and horrific and being involved in the clean-up operation, not just of the office but also of some of the neighbouring houses. The heartbreak and sense of loss that emanated from the affected families has stuck with me ever since.

From Wessex Water, I joined the Environment Agency working predominantly in the Water Quality team but also volunteering in the Flood Incident Room during flood events. When flooding is imminent, the Flood Incident Room is a very dynamic environment that is both exciting and pressured, but being involved in some of the major flooding events that have affected the Upper Severn area over recent years has given me a sound background into the causes and impacts of flooding from different sources that I hope will stand me in good stead in this new role with the National Flood Forum.

Rebecca Boulton

Community Flood Resilience Project Officer

From a young age I have been interested in the physical aspects of our environment and have always been fascinated by the processes that naturally occur in nature.

Read More
Additionally, throughout my education I learnt about the struggles faced by lesser developed countries. As a result, I decided to spend 3 months teaching English in Ethiopian state schools and a month teaching basic English, Science and Maths in a Kenyan Orphanage. These experiences led me to want to further my knowledge with the aim of helping more people in the future.

Bath Spa University allowed me to proceed through the higher education system from a Foundation Degree in Development Geography, to a BSc in Global Development and Sustainability and finishing with a Masters in Environmental Management. The courses included a variety of modules such as Development and Disasters, Applied Geomorphology and Climatology. The subjects I found most interesting and important was the social aspects of environmental hazards and the applications of renewable energies.

In my spare time I enjoy cooking, music and being active, either on a hockey pitch or walking to explore new areas.

I started working for the National Flood Forum in December 2016 and I hope my experience can be applied to help those in local communities.

Katia Sanhueza-Pino

Community Flood Resilience Project Officer

I have an MSc in Geosciences (Germany) and an MSc in Hazards & Disaster Management (UK). I chose to focus on Disaster Management after working as a Geologist in Germany and realised how important it is to try to involve the population and communities affected by a certain hazard or disastrous event.

Read More
The NFF provides this unique space where communities and individuals affected by flooding can be listened to and be represented while taking into account their local knowledge and experience. Being able to recognise the potential of a community and being able to guide them to seek a solution for their problems is something that I am passionate about.

Having been personally affected by flooding in the past, I understand the feeling of loss and emotions of flood victims and the urgent need to recover as soon as possible. Remembering how I and my family felt is something I will use to better understand the positions of people whose home has been flooded and offer better assistance in the recovery and preparation phase.

I have lived many years in Spain, Germany and New Zealand and enjoy traveling and discovering new cultures and languages. I have volunteered for a major homeless charity in the UK and have joined a group of volunteers that creates and updates maps of a region affected by a disaster in order to enable responders to reach those in need.



Shani Lambert

Community Flood Project Officer

Having always had an interest in land management, it was whilst working for a conservation charity that I decided to follow up my first undergrad degree in archaeology with a conservation and countryside management degree, as I could see how history and land management were intertwined with each other and how this has impacted on our wildlife.

Read More
My decision to leave work and go back into education has lead me to working right across the board in a variety of roles within the charity, public, education and private sectors, holding roles in grants administration, project management, community engagement and bid writing. All of which has given me valuable experience in working with local communities.  In my role with the National Flood Forum I will be managing an Interreg FRAMES project in partnership with the Trent Rivers Trust in Nottinghamshire, working within the community of Southwell and with the Southwell Flood Forum to develop a strong social network which will empower the community and strengthen resilience.

Outside of work I am a keen archer and currently shoot for my county team in Nottinghamshire, but my competitiveness has taken me as far as America, New Zealand and later this year to Malaysia.  I also enjoy growing my own food, gardening and conserving wildlife and travelling to other countries.

Meet the trustees

The National Flood Forum is a registered charity that was established in 2002 with start-up funding from the Environment Agency (EA).   It is a national organisation that helps communities and individuals be prepared for flooding and provides recovery support post-flooding.

We also provide a strong and independent voice that represents the interests of people affected by flooding.  This includes working closely with national and local government agencies, flood protection companies and the insurance industry, as well as flood groups.

Governed by a Board of non-executive Trustees, our charity operates through a small team of professional staff.   We have a commercial operating arm, National Flood Forum Trading Services CIC.

The Board has a maximum of 9 Trustees.  The Chair of the Board is Andrew Johnston.  Please see below for details of current Trustees.

Trustee minutes

The Trustees meet up every quarter and here’s a copy of the minutes from the meetings.

Andrew Johnston

Chair of the Board

Andy Johnston is Chief Operating Officer at the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU).

Read More
He is responsible for maintaining services to the LGIU’s 200 local authority members as well as expanding the LGIU’s reach into Scotland and Ireland. Andy is also Chief Executive of Local Energy a green deal provider company which is part of the LGIU group.

Andy ran the LGIU contribution to the Interreg funded Raingain project and convenes the Local Government Flood Forum.

In the past he has led programmes on sustainability in higher education for Forum for the Future and the OECD. He ran the ground-breaking Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development and was a lecturer in Business for Sustainable Development at the University of Hertfordshire. For eight years he was a councillor on Chelmsford Borough Council.

John Pegg

John has worked in Local government for 39 years, thirty seven years working in Environmental Health, of which the last twenty-seven years specialising in Port health. Retiring in 2010.

Read More
Has been a town councillor in Lostwithiel, Cornwall for sixteen years. Gained firsthand experience when his home was flooded along with forty-six other properties in Lostwithiel at the end on 2010. Currently chair of the town council flood management group. Is very actively involved in all aspects of future prevention of flooding within his and other neighbouring communities.

Other interests are vegetable and fruit growing, amateur dramatics, family and attending music festivals.

Anne Wheeler

Dr Anne Wheeler served as the Defra appointed Chair of the English Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee from April 2012 to June 2018.

Read More
She was previously an EA appointed member of the Severn-Trent Regional Flood Defence Committee for nine years. In all the years that Anne has been involved in flood risk management she has been a strong advocate for engagement with the communities at risk, and where possible has strived to facilitate community partnership in the planning and delivery of flood alleviation and resilience.

Anne is also a member of the West Midlands Forestry and Woodland Advisory Group and a member of the CREST (ESBRC Project) Industry Advisory Panel at the University Centre Shrewsbury.

Anne has a degree and PhD in Environmental Science and was a principal lecturer in Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Wolverhampton. Anne was also Director of Learning Innovation and Professional Practice at Aston University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Jennifer Jarrett

Jennifer is a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a Chartered Insurance Practitioner.

Read More
She has worked in business for over 40 years as an insurance broker with an international London broker, was European Insurance Market Manager with a worldwide computer company and for the past 18 years has been running her own business management consultancy. This consultancy provides benchmark performance strategies and valuations for both insurance brokers and financial services companies. She lives in a small but vibrant village in Herefordshire within the Wye valley and works with the volunteers on a community led plan to ensure the Parish continues to thrive. She is active within the Chartered Insurance Institute and has chaired or been a member of many committees including the audit and the awards committees.  She is a member of the Worshipful Company of Insurers ( a City of London livery company) and a Freeman of the City of London.

Michael McCarthy

Before retiring last year, Mike enjoyed a career of 34 years within the Fire Service.

Read More
Firstly, as an operational officer for 17 years with the West Midlands Fire Service and then with the National Fire Service College as a rescue instructor/tutor for 19 years.  He taught a wide range of rescue skills including water/flooding rescue to delegates from across the UK and the world.  Before this he spent 10 years in the military with numerous postings around the globe.  He also gained a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 2002.

Mike was first flooded in 2007 and had over 4 feet of water throughout the whole of the ground floor. There have been numerous other smaller floods since then almost on a yearly basis.   He lives in a low-lying cottage that is part of an old mill complex in Tredington, South Warwickshire. There is a mill pond and mill race in the garden which form part of the main River Stour.  The Stour joins the River Avon eight miles north at Stratford upon Avon.

Mike has been a very active member of the Shipston Area Flood Action Group (SAFAG) since it was formed under the NFF Pathfinder Group three years ago.  SAFAG is very dynamic and they are attempting to utilise natural flood management interventions to slow the flow of the Stour to reduce its very flashy peak on the rivers hydrograph.

Mike says he is honoured to be appointed a trustee of the National Flood Forum.  He hopes to bring his life experiences and skills to the existing expertise of the board and support the aims of the charity.  This, he says, will hopefully assist communities to be better prepared for flooding and to offer all available advice and support should they suffer the devastating effects that flooding can bring to families and homes across the UK.

Enrico Isnenghi


Enrico is a water engineer with over 20 years of professional experience in flood risk assessment and management. Based in London he is currently a Technical Director of the Engineering Consultancy WSP.



Philip Wright

Now retired, Philip was Deputy Director in the Scottish Government until April 2010, responsible for climate change policy,

Read More
including support to Ministers in taking the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill through the Scottish Parliament and the subsequent implementation of the duty on Scottish Ministers to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, and to making Scotland more resilient to the impacts of climate change. As a member of the UK delegation to UN Climate Change Conferences for over ten years he gained a depth of knowledge and experience of international climate change negotiations.

Philip is a civil engineer by profession and before taking responsibility for climate change held a series of specialist and environmental posts in the Scottish Government, including responsibility for flood risk management policy, for which he promoted a proactive, risk-based approach and the production of the country’s first flood risk maps.

Currently, Philip is actively engaged with a number of charities as:- Chairman of the Scottish Flood Forum; a trustee of the National Flood Forum; Vice-Chairman of Changeworks; and, until October 2012, Chairman of Sniffer.

Phiala Mehring

Phiala and a group of her former neighbours formed Loddon Valley Residents Association (LVRA) in response to the large 2007 flood event and subsequent local events in 2008 and 2009.

Read More
From the outset LVRA has worked closely, chairing regular meetings with, Wokingham Borough Council, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, the National Flood Forum, Loddon Fisheries conservation Consultative (LFCC) and other Wokingham based flood groups seeking ways to reduce local flood risk.  It is through contact with LFCC that LVRA started to appreciate the importance of achieving multiple benefits and working with nature when managing flood risk.  This more integrative and catchment based approach to managing flooding led Phiala to work with the Loddon Catchment Partnership (CaBA group) and establish Loddon Basin Flood Action Group.

As with many flood groups the above is achieved through voluntary work.  Phiala’s day job is as a Research Director working for a FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods – anything you can buy in a Supermarket) research company:  MMR Research Worldwide.  Phiala is also doing a part time PhD at Reading University into understanding the institutional constructions and public perceptions of flooding and flood risk management entitled ‘Get your water out of my lounge’.

Edmund Penning-Rowsell

Professor EDMUND PENNING-ROWSELL is a geographer, taking his PhD from University College London.

Read More
His research interests are the political economy of major hazards and how this affects decisions about investment in hazard mitigation. He has more than 40 years experience of research and teaching in the flood hazard field. His focus is on the social impact of floods, and the policy response from regional, national and international organisations. He has acted as consultant to numerous national and international environmental agencies, including the OECD, the Red Cross/Crescent, the UN, the World Bank, and the World Health Organisation. Professor Penning-Rowsell was awarded the O.B.E. by the Queen in May 2006 for services to flood risk management.