Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust

Graham Thompson, Chief Executive CCGHT –

Graham was appointed as Chief Executive in May 2016.  He is well known in the Causeway Coast and Glens area following his 10 year stint, between 2002 and 2012, as the National Trust’s Project Director for the Giant’s Causeway.  This was during the development stage of the RIBA award winning Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre and the introduction of both the management plan for the Causeway World Heritage Site and the tourism masterplan for the area.  During that time Graham was also an active Board member of CCGHT.

More recently Graham led the project for the development of new conference and exhibition facilities at the Belfast Waterfront on behalf of Belfast City Council.  Prior to his time with the National Trust Graham held various posts in DFP, OFMDFM, the International Fund for Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Graham is originally form South Shields in the North-East of England, has been awarded degrees by both the University of Ulster and Queen’s and lives in Hillsborough with his wife Helen and 3 children.  He is a lover of reading, the outdoors and all sport, especially rugby.

Carole O’Kane, Corporate Services Manager CCGHT–

Carole started with the Trust in July 2002 as Office Administrator but her responsibilities have changed and her current role is Corporate Services Manager. In this role Carole is responsible for the delivery of a professional corporate service provision including financial and administration management, communications, secretariat and members services provision to the various governance committees associated with the Trust.

Carole produces the CCGHT Annual Report and other promotional material. She leads on the development and maintenance of the CCGHT website and Social Media sites.

Carole is responsible for the strategic development of the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust including raising the profile of the Charity and its activities.

Carole has been involved with the Économusée network since 2016 and as part of that project has helped to establish and support the Northern Ireland artisans. As part of the EU programme she has had the pleasure of visiting artisans in Newfoundland, Sweden, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Ireland; and hosting the international partners in the Causeway Coast & Glens area.

During her time with the Trust she has availed of the many training opportunities including WorldHost, Prince 2, Tour Guiding and Storytelling.

Ann-Marie Laverty, Administrative & Finance Officer

Ann-Marie has worked with the Trust since November 2014 in a dual capacity as Admin and Finance Officer for CCGHT and in her previous role she managed the financial aspects of the development and delivery of the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Portia Woods Communications Officer
Portia Woods, Communications Officer

Portia’s role is dedicated to supporting the team to raise awareness of the Causeway Coast & Glens, its natural, built & cultural heritage as well as promoting environmental management & sustainable development to benefit all in the area.

A diverse volunteer, first experienced through the Duke of Edinburgh Award, it set the tone to a future path of voluntary commitments.  Portia knows the benefit that volunteering can provide to an organisation and the local community, as well as to individual wellbeing.

Portia is passionate about where she lives, its people, place and food!  Having founded a food tour experience in 2017-2022 she enjoyed connecting with many businesses and places throughout the years, bringing international visitors to meet and see the lesser known and hidden gems. Having been included as an experience in the launch of Embrace A Giant Spirit at the World Travel Market in 2019 she recognises the importance of our unique place and how it captures visitors attention, especially when you take the slow road approach.

Before Tourism caught her attention Portia spent time in the FMCG sector, working with brands Stella Artois, Spar, Auto Trader & Dale Farm.  Renewable Energy and Business Advisor roles, working in NGO’s, Charities and the Social Enterprise sector solidified Portia’s wealth of experience an transferable skills to motivate people to collaborate and work towards common goals together.

A dedicated staycation advocate Portia has travelled extensively across the island of Ireland and she enjoys sharing stories about who she met, where she went and of course all about the food! Her favourite things are simple, cooking, picnics and a walk on the beach.

Gary Shaw Fundraising Manager Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust
Gary Shaw, Fundraising Manager CCGHT –

Gary has an extensive background in cultural management, securing considerable funding support for numerous heritage and cultural initiatives from a range of sources. Having spent over 20 years working in local government, he has undertaken in-service training in a broad range of vocational areas.

Gary was responsible for leading on the restoration of the award-winning restoration scheme at Antrim Castle Gardens. More recently, he worked on the preparation of NLHF development stage proposals for Castlewellan Forest Park.

Since 2015, Gary has provided heritage focused advisory support and consultancy services to a range of organisations in both the public and voluntary sectors. He is familiar with the Glens of Antrim area with one notable project in particular, having co-ordinated work to restore the Old Church Centre, Cushendun for Cushendun Building Preservation Trust.

Gary holds a first-class honours degree in Fine Art and undertook post-graduate studies in Arts Management at Ulster University.

Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Nikki Maguire, Project Manager Causeway Coast & Glens AONB –

Nikki graduated with an MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development from Queen’s University Belfast and works with the Trust on a range of heritage projects across the area including the preparation and delivery of protected area management plans including the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site Management and Action plans.

Notably, Nikki worked on the Drifting Apart project which engaged local people and teachers with the geological foundations of their landscapes, and she developed the geological exhibition in the Coastal Zone Centre, Portrush.

Nikki heads up the AONB Team, working on a variety of projects and activities to connect people with the natural, built and cultural heritage of the area ranging from marine clean-ups to preliminary work on the North Coast Geopark project. Past projects Storytagging/Northword supported creative businesses to harness the power of our special heritage while Sustainable Resilient Coasts looks at coastal management and planning in rural areas.

Grace McAlister, Causeway WHS Heritage Officer, Causeway Coast & Glens AONB –

Grace graduated from Queen’s University with a BSc Archaeology – Palaeoecology in 2009 and is currently undertaking a PhD. Having worked as an archaeologist for the last 10 years, she has directed excavations, delivered archaeology education programmes and gained invaluable experience working on lottery funded projects while employed at the Centre for Community Archaeology, QUB.

Passionate about bringing heritage and archaeology to a wider audience, Grace connects the sites and people of the Binevenagh through a variety of projects.

Grace grew up in north Antrim and loves hill walking, a swim at Dunseverick, anything craft related and baking (and eating) cakes.

Tiérna Mullan, Project Officer, Causeway Coast & Glens

Tiérna graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in International Travel & Tourism Management in 2007 and joined the Trust on 7th January 2009 as Administration Officer. She progressed to Project Assistant and since July 2015 has been employed as Heritage Officer.  Her responsibilities include the delivery of projects on the ground relating to AONB including the development of AONB Management and Action Plans, CCGHT’s Annual Events programme and the organisation of events and exhibitions to promote and raise awareness of CCGHT and the AONB.

Since 2010 she has been involved in the “ÉCONOMUSÉE Artisans at Work” project, working to support local artisans and develop new visitor experiences.  As part of this project Tiérna has had the opportunity to visit artisans in Canada, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Norway and showcase the Causeway Coast and Glens to International artisans and stakeholders.

Tiérna developed the 2020-2025 Causeway Coast AONB Action Plan; other projects include involvement in the EU funded Northword Storytagging project, working with a range of international partners. During her time with CCGHT she has undertaken various training including R.E.C First Aid, Prince II, Social Media training, Digital Marketing training, Leadership & Management training, Events Management training & WorldHost.

Antrim Coast & Glens Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Geoff Nuttal
Geoff Nuttall, Marine, Coastal & AONB Project Manager –

Geoff has a wealth of experience in environment and heritage protection and promotion.  This includes six years as Head of WWF Northern Ireland delivering marine, freshwater and environmental sustainability projects and campaigns; three years as NI manager of the WWF EU Celtic Seas Partnership Project; and five years as NI Policy and Campaigns Manager for the National Trust, including extensive work on coastal, marine and protected landscapes issues.  Geoff has also worked for the Woodland Trust and NICVA (the NI third sector umbrella body) as Head of its European Unit and Head of Policy and Public Affairs, leading its Net Zero and Environmental Sustainability work.

Geoff holds a PG Dip postgraduate in Tourism Management and BA Joint Hons in Modern Languages (French & German).  He enjoys walking, kayaking, cooking and brewing beer.

Chris Millar, Project Officer, Antrim Coast & Glens AONB –

Chris has a background in environmental protection, with experience in land and river remediation. He has a strong love for environmental heritage and has both volunteered and worked for the National Trust on the North Coast.

As a Natural Heritage Project Officer in the Antrim Coast & Glens AONB with CCGHT Chris oversees projects to conserve and improve heritage sites across the area and works to increase access to and understanding of the wealth of natural heritage across the Antrim Coast and Glens.

Chris has a keen interest in outdoor recreation; spending lots of time outdoors: hiking, cold water swimming, rock climbing and playing disc golf. He helps to run local sports clubs and associations on the North Coast.

Binevenagh Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Scheme

Andrew Bratton, Project Manager, Binevenagh AONB –

Andrew joined CCGHT in 2012 and has led and developed a number of roles within the Trust including AONB and WHS Project Manager (2012 – 2018), Drifting Apart (Northern Peripheries and Arctic Programme) Project Manager (2015 – 2018) and Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Manager (2018 to present). Andrew graduated with a PhD in Geography from Queen’s University Belfast in July 2015. Andrew collects, restores and rides vintage motorbikes and enjoys climbing, swimming, coasteering, surfing and is a keen Formula One fan. Working to travel, Andrew has climbed Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Mount Kinabalu.

Laura McAuley, Project Officer, Binevenagh AONB –

(Maternity Leave at present)

Laura has been with the Trust since July 2014 where she began working as the Admin & Finance Officer on the Heart of The Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme and moved on to become the Outreach & Volunteer Officer.  Laura is now working as the Natural Heritage Officer for Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Laura graduated from Queens University in Belfast with a Bsc (Hons) degree in Geography and is working towards an MSC in Environmental Management.  Laura has a keen interest in biodiversity and the environment and isn’t afraid to get stuck in with the practical conservation and enhancement aspects of the projects and has delivered a number of community engagement projects with local community groups and schools in The Glens of Antrim, organising archaeological excavations, planting trees, wildflower meadows and creating an outdoor learning resource for primary schools.

Having worked for over 6 years on Heart of The Glens LPS she has a lot of experience in working with various partners to deliver a range of environmental, conservation and training projects. She is keen to get involved in the day to day running of the projects and ensure that they are seen through to the end.  Laura enjoys farming, travelling and hiking and has climbed Kilimanjaro as well as the highest peaks in Czech Republic, Poland, Iceland, Macedonia, Greece, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Scotland to name a few.  She is also a fully qualified Heritage Tour Guide.

Melissa McQuitty, Project Officer, Binevenagh

Melissa has over a decade of experience working in the conservation and tourism industry. Mel (as she is more widely known), graduated with a degree in Leisure, Events and Cultural Management from the University of Ulster in 2006.

Mel specialises in projects, having been an integral part of the team on the award-winning Causeway visitor experience, and over the years working on a wide variety of exciting projects across the North coast from Downhill to Cushendun. In 2017, Mel furthered her technical knowledge around projects and was awarded the Associate Project Management Certificate.

A strong believer in the need to access nature and protect our environment, she is a keen litter picker, enjoys travelling and wild camping adventures with her family in their much-loved campervan.

Aisling Gribbin, Project Officer, Binevenagh AONB (Magilligan Tree Nursery Co-ordinator)

Aisling graduated with an MSC from the University of Edinburgh in 2011 and since then has been involved in a range of wildlife conservation projects across Scotland, from upland farm environmental work, peatland habitat restoration and most recently, a citizen science project in Ayrshire, encouraging local people to get involved in wildlife recording and monitoring.

Aisling moved back to Northern Ireland in early 2018 to start her own small dog business, or “hobby job” helping dogs and their own get active together. In her free time Aisling can usually be found running up a mountain with her dogs, or leading group classes with fellow dog mad folk!

Aisling has a passion for conservation, and working together to create shared outdoor spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Erin Boyle, Binevenagh AONB (Magilligan Tree Nursery Assistant) –

Erin joined at the beginning of 2024 at Magilligan Tree Nursery. She has had a long-standing interest in environmental protection and sustainability, having volunteered with the National Trust at Downhill and is currently involved with a woodland project in Rasharkin (Drumbolcan Wood). Erin is passionate about rewilding and connecting people with nature.

Barbara Lynch, Heritage Officer, Binevenagh AONB –

Barbara graduated from the University of Ulster, Coleraine with a BSc (Hons) Degree in Geography and Post Graduate Diploma in Geographical Information Systems. She is a qualified Financial Advisor with over a decade of experience in Business Banking and Administration.

Barbara lives in the beautiful Inishowen Peninsula and has a strong connection to the North West where she spends many weekends with her young family. Barbara enjoys running, walking, yoga cooking, interior design and travelling.

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