OUR PEOPLE

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 been Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum since 2011, a national charity that supports and represents flood risk communities.  It helps people to take more control of the flood risk in their lives

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by:

  1. Helping people to prepare for flooding
  2. Helping them to recover their lives when they have been flooded
  3. Working with government and other organisations to put flood risk communities at the heart of policy making and operational delivery

Paul has worked throughout his career in the public and private sectors on a wide range of environmental and land management issues.

Paul was the independent chair of the Calderdale Flood Commission, is a Director at Localise West Midlands and a member of Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committee for the West Midlands.

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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.

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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.

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Jean Timmins

Administrative Assistant

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

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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.

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Sanjay Johal

Community Engagement Manager

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 12 Trustees.  The Chair of the Board is Daniel Johns.  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.

Edmund Penning-Rowsell

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

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.

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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.

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David Goff

David lives in the Weald of Kent in a small parish community. He is married and has three children and six grandchildren.

He is a son of a farmer and before retiring in 2010 spent his working life in agriculture. He worked on a farm for seven years before spending twenty-four years teaching at an agricultural college ending up as Head of Agriculture.

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He then spent five years as General Manager at the Kent County Showground.

Since retiring he has spent much time and energy on flood related matters and attending many meetings with a range of people and agencies helping communities and people not only to understanding flooding but to find solutions.

David was flooded in 2000 and spent six months living upstairs whilst drying out and having repairs done. The area has also flooded in 2013/2014 and then in December 2019 and twice in early 2020.

David is Chair of the Parish Council and also part of the local flood group in the village. He coordinates the Flood Wardens in the parish.

He set up the Joint Parishes flood Group in 2016 with six other parishes and one flood group. This group was supported by the NFF and the local MP Helen Grant. It had a number of successes and still shares communication by email.

David is a member of the Medway Flood Partnership Group established in January 2017 to bring together local partners, national agencies, non-government organisations and community representatives to reduce flood risk in the Medway catchment and create better places for people, properties and businesses.

This group has had a major influence on getting things changed and improved in the catchment.

He is a Board Member of the local Internal Drainage Board and an Independent member of the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

When approached to become a Trustee of the NFF he was both surprised and excited by the fact he would be able to try and make a difference at both a local and national level in protecting communities and having the opportunity to work with other groups around the country and help set the agenda to ensure people are protected.

David is interested and keen to work together with all parties at local and national level to find solutions to ensure more people feel safer in their communities. He recognises the emotional and physical issues related to flooding and how long it takes to recover after a flood and the importance of working together has never been more important.

There is a lot of work that has been done but each flood brings new challenges, and he is keen to play a hands-on approach to the challenges that are ahead as the climate and landscape changes.

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Daniel Johns

Daniel Johns, Head of Public Affairs, Anglian Water Services
Daniel joined Anglian Water in 2018 after almost 15 years at Defra and the Committee on Climate Change where he worked on flooding, water resources, agriculture and environment policy.

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* Daniel leads Anglian Water’s work on flood risk management across the east of England including their partnership funding contributions toward flood and coastal schemes. His team is currently gearing up for a major SuDS retrofit campaign starting in 2020 called ‘Make Rain Happy’.
* Previously, Daniel led the adaptation team at the Committee on Climate Change that produced the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and reported to Parliament every other year on the steps being taken to prepare the country for the impacts of climate change.
* Whilst at Defra, Daniel led the funding aspects of the 2010 Flood and Water Management Act, was the architect of the ‘Partnership Funding’ approach to funding flood and coastal defences introduced in 2011, and led the cross-government team that worked with the insurance industry on Flood Re.

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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.

Bob Haddon

Bob retired in 2016 after running a successful Home Improvements company which he set up in 2005.

This was a complete change of career after spending 25years in retailing starting as a branch manager. He then spent a four year spell in Jersey helping to set up a new sister company and returned to the mainland in 1986, progressing to a Senior Operations Manager, responsible for 240 stores.

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In his early working life he spent time in Engineering and the military (Army 7years).

During his time being involved in the “flood community” he was nominated and short listed for the Flood Re Local Heroes Award (November 2017)

He has presented to the NFF National Conference in London (February 2017) on Communities working with Developers.

He also made the opening presentation at the 1st NFF Community Groups regional conference with a presentation on the Shifnal Flood Partnership Group in Birmingham (November 2018) and fully endorses the work of the NFF

He believes he has acquired and learned local knowledge about working with Developers on SUDs since Jan 2014 and is actively involved in strategic planning for a community at grass roots level on creating a holistic approach to protecting and reducing the risk of flooding in his local community

He has a direct approach of analysing facts and finding solutions on flooding and people may consider him rather tenacious on flooding issues

He works effectively, participating at all levels from grass roots to specialists and professionals

He also believes that he demonstrates integrity, confidentiality and fairness when participating in discussions/meetings

He was personally involved in the flooding of 2007 and was displaced for 18 months until the reinstatement of his family home and is passionate about ensuring that what he learnt from his experiences can be of a benefit to others

He is currently Chairman of the Shifnal Flood Partnership Group in Shropshire [info@shifnalflood.org] and their progress to date includes creating a community group with an emphasis and belief that you need to work actively and effectively in partnership with organisations and agencies.

The Shifnal Flood Partnership Group are involved in extensive work on developing and creating a Catchment Based Flood Modelling programme for their community which is affected by flash flooding from a Local River and also surface water flooding. Their most recent initiative is to create a new community group called “The Friends of the Wesley Brook”

Friends of the Wesley aims to conserve, protect and improve the Wesley Brook and its surrounding for the benefit of the community, wildlife and the wider natural environment.

This new community group will ultimately develop into the public face of the Shifnal Flood Partnership Group and lead to the creation of a local flood resilience team which would respond to the local community in the event of flooding (Shifnal Flood Resilience & Recovery Team)

The plan is to create a contingency plan which would be put into operation in the event of a flood warning and also would act as a local flood recovery support team

Bob is extremely interested in helping the flood community and feels that reducing the risks of flooding for the long term benefit of communities needs to be a concerted effort with our partners in all of the agencies concerned with flooding

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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.

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

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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’.

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Peter Bide

After studying geology at Cardiff University, Peter worked for the British Geological Survey for eight years before moving to the Department of the Environment.

From 2000 he worked in research programme management, finance and science policy.  In 2004 he moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Planning Directorate

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where he led a number of important policy development projects including planning policy for flooding, coastal erosion, water and the natural environment. He was a Director on the Board of the British Geological Survey from to 2006 to 2011. He left DCLG in 2011 and worked for the Association of Drainage Authorities for two years as a technical consultant.

Peter is now working in a private capacity on water planning issues with a focus on integrated water management.  He is Chair of the Catchment-Based Approach Urban Water Group.

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Lynn Jones

Although retired since 2018 I had a background chiefly in tourism.  I started a holiday cottage agency which I successfully ran for 30 years and, with my husband, ran a B&B for 18 years building both businesses back up from the impacts of Foot & Mouth on the Cumbrian economy (2001) and then three devastating floods. I fully understand the trauma of losing your home – and business – to flooding.

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As a founder member of Keswick Flood Action Group (formed after the 2005 floods with the much-needed support of the National Flood Forum) over the last 15 years I have been involved in:

Flood Prevention: river/foul/surface water/SuDS

Flood Response: writing Keswick’s initial Emergency Plan used in 2009

Flood Recovery: grants/property surveys/property level protection/insurance/funding

Community Support: arranging drop ins/information events locally e.g., Flood Fairs with the National Flood Forum after the 2009 & 2015 floods, and with Cockermouth & Morpeth Flood Groups ran two Flood Conferences in Carlisle offering organisational advice to other communities.

Interaction: with agencies, authorities and politicians through ministries, inquiries, parliamentary committees and the media

Over the years the Keswick team have had quite a few achievements. Our town had a new and upgraded £30million sewage system in 2012 and the Environment Agency’s £6.1million river defences were improved that same year. In 2015 a new underground pumping station was installed in Elliott Park to reduce surface water flood risk for that area and we now have helped fund two mobile community pumps which are available in town ready to be deployed where needed. Working with the LLFA a further underground surface water pump system and upstream storage basin was completed in summer 2020 for the Penrith Road area of Keswick with a financial contribution from the community.

We continue to work, as we have done for many years, on achieving a better management regime for Thirlmere reservoir. This, we believe, could offer the best solution for the flood risk to over 500 homes in Keswick and also offer a means of peak flow management to the communities downstream. I am fully committed to a full-catchment approach for flood risk management in our mountainous area and am currently acting coordinator for the Derwent River Flood Group. I believe, as climate change intensifies both the risks of drought and flood, that there is a need for improved legislation and a rebalance of focus to ensure that both the government – and water companies – address the need to invest and act on flood prevention with as much urgency as they currently afford the need to ensure water supply.

I received an MBE for my work to prevent flooding in 2018

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