GSGSSI Personnel

Our People

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is made up of a small band of passionate people dedicated to the environmental recovery and resilience of this remote UK Overseas Territory, through world-leading evidence-based sustainable management. If you wish to contact us please use the contact form here.

Laura Sinclair Willis – Chief Executive

Laura joined the Government in June 2021 with a background in the public, private and charitable sectors.

Laura is accountable to Her Majesty’s Commissioner for the effective management, good governance and operation of this UK Overseas Territory. She has overall responsibility for people and finance with a budget of c.£8m. to deliver our strategic ambition: “Environmental recovery and resilience through world-leading evidence-based sustainable management”.

Laura’s responsibilities include:

  • Planning, managing and co-ordinating the delivery of our 5-year values-driven approach to stewardship.
  • Developing relevant policies and legislation, undertaking business planning and annual reporting;
    Overseeing and directing operations to ensure the proper management, good governance and appropriate use of resources, whilst meeting international obligations.
  • Developing, managing and maintaining strategic relationships with Government’s partners and stakeholders to help maintain the sovereignty and security of the Territory.
  • Enhancing the profile and outreach of Government.

Dr Mark Belchier – Director of Fisheries and Environment

Mark joined GSGSSI in July 2018 on secondment from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) where he has worked on South Georgia marine and fisheries science projects since 2000. He helped establish the Government’s applied fisheries research laboratory at King Edward Point (KEP) developing and managing the KEP research programme. Mark obtained a PhD in marine fisheries ecology and has extensive fisheries research experience. He has been the lead scientist on nine research surveys of fish resources at South Georgia. He has represented the UK as part of the UK delegation to CCAMLR and has chaired many international conservation and fisheries treaty meetings.

Mark’s key responsibilities include:

  • Sustainable management of the terrestrial and marine environments of SGSSI including one of the world’s largest MPAs.
  • Development and management (including licencing) of its associated fisheries to the highest international standards of sustainability.
  • Mark divides his time between Cambridgeshire and Stanley and loves rugby, cycling, walking Keats the dog and playing guitar badly.

Steve Brown  – Director of Operations

Steve joined the Government in 2017 as the Director of Operations with a background in Electrical and Mechanical engineering projects in the UK. In 1998 a role with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) took Steve firstly to Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic peninsula and then posts at all the other BAS stations; Signy, Halley, Bird Island and South Georgia. Initially roles related to engineering and technical disciplines before moving into management as Station Leader, initially at South Georgia and then at Halley. Whilst based in the Falkland Islands from 2007 until 2012 Steve worked on various infrastructure projects in Antarctica, Ascension Island, South Georgia and the Falklands.

Steve has responsibility for logistics and operations relating to Government activities, including the management of South Georgia’s derelict whaling stations. His areas of responsibility include:

  • Leadership and management of the Government Officers
  • Logistics and Patrolling of FPV Pharos SG

Steve is an active member of the Falkland Island Defence Force, living as a permanent resident of the Falklands with his dog Missy. Steve enjoys the challenges of working on small remote islands and the associated problem solving and adventure which goes with it.

Steve-Brown

John Clorley – Director of Strategy and Policy

John joined the Government in March 2021 on secondment from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the UK. Whilst with DEFRA he was responsible for the environmental aspects of negotiations for the new UN Treaty for Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, environmental regulations for Deep Sea Mining and the marine targets for the Post 2020 Global biodiversity Framework. He was vice-chair of the OSPAR Commission for the protection of the NE Atlantic, having previously been chair of the Biodiversity Committee. He has previously worked on reforming fisheries management in MPAs, Parliamentary legislation and de-regulation, non-native species and Government statistics. His first “real” job was as a supermarket manager, a very long time ago.

John has responsibility for ensuring the strategic landscape, which he is helping shape, is underpinned by effective policy and legislation. With the recent publication of ‘Protect Sustain Inspire’ there is also detailed planning and target setting work currently underway.

John is based in Bristol, UK.

Sue Gregory – Marine Environment and Fisheries Manager

Sue joined GSGSSI in April 2017. Prior to this she worked as a fisheries ecologist on the South Georgia Project at the British Antarctic Survey for eight years, which included overwintering at KEP and spending considerable time on commercial fishing vessels as a scientific observer and conducting research surveys.

Sue is responsible for the day-to-day operation of South Georgia’s fisheries and Marine Protected Area, working with the Director of Fisheries and Environment to manage the fisheries sustainably and to the highest international standards in compliance with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Sue’s key responsibilities include:

  • Day-to-day management of South Georgia’s fisheries, including the fishery observer programme and catch verification
  • MSC certification and surveillance audits
  • Support of scientific research and monitoring to deliver fisheries and MPA objectives
  • Marine and fisheries outreach
  • Baking cakes!

Ross James – Visitor Management and Biosecurity Officer

Ross joined the Government in January 2018 to fill a newly created role as Visitor Management & Biosecurity Officer. Before joining the Government, Ross worked as Biosecurity Officer for the Falkland Islands Government, and prior to that enjoyed a varied career ranging from fisheries observer to diving instructor.

Ross’s key responsibilities include:

  • Developing biosecurity policy to minimise the risk of non-native species establishing on South Georgia, and ensuring that the policies are applied and reviewed.
  • Ensuring the effective running of the biosecurity dog programme based in the Falkland Islands.
  • Managing visitation and tourism by working with IAATO and others to ensure that visits are safe, sustainable and a positive experience.

During his time with GSGSSI, Ross is most proud of helping set up a biosecurity detector dog programme; it’s a unique project and now established it plays an important part in protecting SGSSI’s ecology by ensuring rodents don’t have opportunity to re-invade. Another highlight was commissioning the new ‘South Georgia – A Visitor’s Guide’ film narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Ross is based in the Falkland Islands where he lives with his wife and three children.

jamesRoss2

Jennifer Black – Environment Officer

Jen joined the Government in 2012 is the Environment Officer. Jen has been involved in a huge range of projects about or actually on South Georgia including non-native species management, wildlife surveys and policy development. Jen was instrumental to the success of the reindeer eradication programme and supporting the subsequent rodent eradication.

In her current part time role, Jen has responsibility for:

  • managing compliance with environmental legislation and co-ordinating the Regulated Activity Permit System
  • supporting the science programmes that secure external funding
  • the much-envied role of co-ordinating the design and approval of all the Territory’s stamps and coins.

Jen is now mainly based in the UK where she enjoys all things outdoors. She travels south as often as she can.

Jen Lee

Bekki Honeybone – Business Support Officer

Bekki joined the Government in August 2019 as the Business Support Officer, having previously worked in financial administration in local government in the UK in the Falkland Island Governments taxation office.

Bekki’s key responsibilities include:

  • processing and raising invoices
  • dealing with applications and issuing permits for tourism
  • ordering office and other supplies for both Falklands and South Georgia-based staff
  • purchase stock for the SG Post Office, and co-ordinating delivery to FI and SG
  • booking travel and accommodation for government staff and contractors.

She is also the first point of contact for customers and stakeholders.

Bekki enjoys travelling the world with her husband, Philip, and has an aim of visiting at least as many countries as she is years old – an ever-increasing target. South Georgia is the high point of the list of places Bekki has been.

Our Government Officers:

Steve Waugh

Steve joined the Government on January 2015 after a 15-year career with the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department.

Steve studied Aquaculture and Fishery Management in England and has worked in the Salmon and Trout industry in the UK and aquaculture in the Middle East. Seeking a new challenge Steve moved into fishery protection with the Environment Agency in England. His connection with South Georgia began in 1998 when he moved to the Falkland Islands to work as a Fishery Protection Officer, which involved patrolling South Georgia waters and providing logistic services to the Government of SGSSI.

SteveWaugh

Ben Swain

David Swain, known as Ben, is embarking on his first voyage to South Georgia following our recent recruitment exercise to grow our Government Officer cohort.

Ben has a long family connection with South Georgia, his great uncle having met Shackleton upon his arrival in the James Caird lifeboat. He is an experienced Captain of square rigged sailing ships in the UK Merchant Navy, holding a Master 3000gt COC. Prior to this Ben was Station Manager at Kings Cross (where he met Harry Potter!). An enthusiastic educator at heart, with a love for being on the water and out in the great outdoors, he enjoys life to the full and transfers his experiences to the people he meets.

Ben is looking forward to working as part of the Government of SGSSI team to preserve the biodiversity of South Georgia and raise awareness of its success story.

Sam Balderson

Sam has spent many years living and working on small remote islands. This included 7 years in the Seychelles as a research assistant, Scientific diver, Conservation Officer and Activity Centre Manager. Having completed a Conservation MSc at UCL Sam got to experience the South Atlantic for the first time whilst working on New Island in the Falklands in 2011-12. The rugged and dramatic landscape filled with amazing wildlife has stuck in his mind ever since.

Sam has a passion for nature and particularly the marine environment that he loves to explore when SCUBA diving and he is a keen wildlife photographer both above and below the waves.

Vicki Foster

With degrees in Marine Biology and Ecosystem-based Management, Vicki has had a varied career in fisheries management and marine conservation in the UK. In 2016 she joined the British Antarctic Survey as Fisheries Biologist at King Edward Point research station and fell in love with this unique and harshly beautiful island. Vicki spent most of the past 5 years at South Georgia, most recently as Station Leader at the small and remote Bird Island.

All the Government Officers have similar responsibilities and they include:

  • leading the administration of many government functions on South Georgia
  • acting as the single point of contact for all on-Island interaction with the Government for all visitors, operators and personnel
  • representing Government as a forward looking British Overseas Territory
  • ensuring all persons on the Territory adhere to prescribed laws, policies and regulations
  • take responsibility and ownership for helping the Government to meet its vision and objectives.

Government Officer Partners

The Government Officers get the chance to travel with their partner. Any travelling partner has the chance to get involved in station life. This might include supporting vessel inspections or helping to run the Post Office amongst a host of other tasks.

This year so far we have welcomed to South Georgia:

Sol Melo Caviativa (Steve Waugh’s partner)

Sol is from Bogota, Colombia, where she graduated as a Biomedical Engineer. She has spent her entire career working in the health profession with most of this involved in intensive care support. On South Georgia Sol supports her partner Steve in his role as Government Officer. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, nature watching, handicrafts and maintaining her motorcycle.

 

 

Miriam Frank (Ben Swain’s partner)

Miriam holds degrees in Biology, Chemistry and Education and is a qualified Science Teacher from Germany, who is always looking for new ways to share her enthusiasm for the natural world with her students, in and beyond the classroom. She traded in the traditional classroom for a tall ship and took on the responsibilities as project manager and teacher for Biology and Chemistry, travelling across the Atlantic Ocean and back with 30+ students several times. Leaving the four walls of a classroom (or rather home office, as of lately) behind once more, Miriam is excited to start a new adventure, swap teenagers for penguins! As you never really stop being a teacher, even when doing something else entirely on the other side of the globe, Miriam hopes to find ways to pass on what she will learn about South Georgia’s wildlife to her students back home and around the world.