Our team

Our award-winning team are responsible for the sustainable management of the Estates in North and East Devon.

We are recognised as one of the 100 Best Small Companies to Work For by the Sunday Times Best Companies survey and are proud to be an accredited Investor in People since 2003.  

Key departmental contacts shown below:

  • John Varley

    Estates Director
    Department: Leadership Team

    John joined Clinton Devon Estates in 2000 after a very varied career in senior management with BT plc, mainly in the global and operations divisions.  The Estate comprises 10,000 hectares across East and North Devon and in addition to farming and forestry, operates a range of rural businesses and also a portfolio of residential and commercial property.  The Estate has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise three times and is a Sunday Times Top 100 Company to work for.

    John’s current non-executive positions include Board Member of the Environment Agency and Natural England. John also chairs the Estates Business Group.

    John was an independent member of the Lawton Review, “Making Space for Nature”, in 2010, which was a major influence on the Government's Natural Environment White Paper.  In March 2011 John was appointed to the Defra Independent Forestry Panel, which make recommendations to Government on the future of forestry in England and in September 2011 he was appointed as a judge on the Government's Nature Improvement Area Competition Panel.

    Until 2002, John spent 22 years as an officer in the Territorial Army, Royal Artillery in his "spare time" and he now spends most of it with his family, helping to bring up three children.  John is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and the Chartered Institute of Marketing.  He was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1991 and appointed OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to agriculture, environment and the rural community.

  • Leigh Rix

    Head of Property and Land
    Department: Property & Land, Leadership Team

    Leigh is responsible for property and land operations on the Estates as well as development and strategy. He is a graduate of the University of Reading (BSc Estate Management) and a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  Leigh joined the Estate team from the National Trust where he was responsible for the strategic and operational management of over 43,000 acres of property and land in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the Derbyshire/Staffordshire Peak District. 

    Leigh has previously been a Secretary of State appointed Board member on the Peak District National Park Authority and a Board member of the Derbyshire and Peak District Destination Management Partnership ( Tourist Board ).  Additionally Leigh is also a past Chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Nottinghamshire Derbyshire Rural Practice Division, and was a regional committee member of the East Midlands Country Land and Business Association.

    Currently Leigh is a member of the Environment Agency South West Flood and Coastal Committee, the South West CBI Council and the RICS Countryside Policy Panel as well as his local Parish Council. In addition Leigh is a Board member of The International Coalition of Historic Sites of Conscience.

    Leigh is a Director of CCH Property Company Limited , the Estates property investment arm.

    In his spare time Leigh enjoys tennis and skiing as well as the challenge of training his gun dog. At  weekends he  is a part-time lorry driver supporting his youngest daughter’s equestrian ambitions!

  • John Wilding MBE

    Head of Forestry and Environmental Economy
    Department: Leadership Team, Forestry & Environment

    John is a Chartered Forester with responsibility for woodland management across the Estates 1900 hectares of woodland in Devon. He also leads on renewable energy projects including biomass and solar voltaic.

    John is a Member of the Forestry Commission’s South West England Regional Advisory Committee and represents the Estates on the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership Panel. He Chairs the South West Deer Initiative Steering Group and is a member of the South West Grey Squirrel working group. He is a member of the steering group of the South West Timber Business Development Programme and sits on the Woodland Forum on the North Devon Nature Improvement Area.

    John is an adviser on the tree disease Phythophthora ramorum, leading discussions with other Estates and woodland owners. 

    In 2011, John was appointed a member of the Government’s Forestry Regulation Review. In the same year John received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for outstanding services to the environment in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.  

    Prior to joining the Estate in May 1997, John worked for Tilhill Economic Forestry, based at Farnham in Surrey where he was a deputy district manager of a woodland management and contracting business operating over central southern England.

    In his leisure time John enjoys deer stalking and is a keen game fisherman and rough shooter. He is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and active member of the Devon Advanced Motorcyclists Club.

  • David Cobb

    Finance Director
    Department: Leadership Team, Finance & Administration

    David joined the Estate team in 1997 having worked for Francis Clark Chartered Accountants. He works as part of the management team responsible for the 2021 Estate Strategy.

    Specialising in the implementation of financial and treasury management, along with wider tax planning, David’s role is to help deliver the Estates’ succession plan for future generations.

    David is a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

  • Dr Sam Bridgewater

    Nature Conservation Manager
    Department: Pebblebed Heaths

    Dr. Sam Bridgewater joined Clinton Devon Estates in 2012 from NW Scotland where he coordinated a Lottery-funded Landscape Partnership Scheme conserving and promoting the natural and cultural heritage of Wester Ross.  He has a BSc in Plant Science from Sheffield University, an MSc in Forestry from Oxford University and a PhD in Conservation Biology from Edinburgh University.

    Sam has worked as an academic researcher at the Natural History Museum (2004 to 2008) and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (1992 to 2004) with his research interests including describing and explaining patterns of plant diversity, the management of cultural landscapes and the economic use of plants. He has published over 20 academic research papers, two books and numerous book chapters. He currently oversees the management of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and the Otter Estuary and advises on the development of environmental policy for the broader Estate.

  • Barney Tremaine

    Farms Manager
    Department: Leadership Team, Clinton Farms

    Barney Tremaine joined the Estate as part of the new business relationship with Velcourt, a leading land management company.

    After attending agricultural college and working within a number of farming systems throughout the country, Barney then attended and graduated from the Royal Agricultural University with a Bsc in Agriculture. Upon graduating he then entered Velcourt Management Training scheme where after working on a number of their farms moved to manage Clinton Devon Farm Partnership, the home farming operation of Clinton Devon Estates.

    Barney has been a key member of Young Farmers since the age of 16 and enjoys socialising and sports, particularly squash and MMA in his spare time.


  • Helen West

    Bicton Arena Manager
    Department: Bicton Arena

    Helen joined the Estates team in June 2013 to manage all the equestrian activities, along with the grounds maintenance and ongoing upkeep of the Grade 1 listed parkland within which Bicton Arena is sited. She is responsible for managing a wide range of events and is the key interface with all users of the Arena.

    Helen previously ran her own competition yard and is an accomplished 3 Day Eventer who has competed at top level at Blenheim, Burleigh, Chatsworth and Windsor among others.   She is a former Young Rider Gold medallist, and has represented her country on several occasions at Junior and Young Rider level. Helen first competed at Bicton Arena in 1987, and has been a regular user of the venue ever since.

  • Adrian Pitts

    Estates Surveyor
    Department: Property & Land

    Adrian is an Estates Surveyor primarily responsible for managing the Estates’ commercial portfolio as well as the Heanton Estate in North Devon.

    Following a degree in mathematics at Warwick University Adrian trained as a Chartered Surveyor with the Valuation Office Agency. He joined Clinton Devon Estates in April 2008 having previously worked as a surveyor in both the private and public sector.

    Work-related interests include the construction and restoration of vernacular buildings while outside work Adrian is a keen cyclist, rugby enthusiast and gardener.   

  • Carla Whitaker

    Estate Office and Project Administration Manager
    Department: Finance & Administration

    Carla has responsibility for ensuring the smooth running of all Estate Office operations including IT, events and a range of projects across the Estates. She has previously sat on the Rural Economy Grant (REG) Panel and the Rural Growth Network (RGN) Board.

    Carla joined the Estate in 2010 after graduating from University with a BSc Hons in Psychology. Since then she has completed courses in Office Management and qualified with the APM Project Management Qualification.

    Outside work Carla loves baking and is passionate about theatre. Prior to her degree Carla attended the Oxford School of Drama.

  • Andy Carpenter

    Building Supervisor
    Department: Property & Land

    Since 1998, Andy has managed the Estates’ residential and commercial property repairs and maintenance. He is also in charge of conducting Health and Safety audits for commercial tenants.

    Prior to joining Clinton Devon Estates Andy worked as a building consultant and site agent for a range of regional companies; covering all types of construction work, residential, commercial and civil engineering projects.

  • Tom Garner

    Wildlife Ranger
    Department: Forestry & Environment

    Tom is responsible for deer management on the Clinton and Beer Estates in East Devon and has been behind the launch of a successful range of Clinton-branded venison product which are sold locally.

    Before joining the team in 2005, Tom was a Royal Marine for seven years. He is also responsible for vermin control on the Clinton Devon Estates Home Farms and in his spare time he is enjoys game shooting , fishing ,rugby and cricket .

  • Paul Hipkin

    Head Gardener
    Department: Property & Land

    Paul is responsible for 25 acres of historic gardens and a productive kitchen garden which he manages with a team of three full-time and part-time gardeners.  Paul joined the Estate in 2010 from the National Trust at Knightshayes Court. He studied horticulture at Bicton College and achieved a National Diploma followed by an RHS Advanced Certificate and Diploma in Horticulture. 

  • Jayne Savage

    Administration Assistant
    Department: Finance & Administration

    Jayne joined the Estates in 2012 as an Administration Assistant to the management team. Prior to that she spent 15 years with Barclays Bank, beginning her career in her home town of Wolverhampton in 1978 and moving to Devon in 1992.

    Outside work Jayne enjoys exploring towns and villages in the beautiful Devon countryside, walking on the coast path and visiting classic car motoring events with her husband and two daughters.

  • Ed Lagdon

    Assistant Warden
    Department: Pebblebed Heaths

    Ed studied Countryside Management at Aberystwyth University and has specialised in heathland management since 2004. After a period as a contractor he joined the Trust’s team full time in 2011. In addition to undertaking practical management and education work he specialises in wildlife surveys, notably nightjars and Dartford warblers.

    “I have always had a keen interest in wildlife and love working outside. Working on the heaths within the East Devon AONB, is hugely rewarding, as you can see the positive impact our small team has on the environment.”

  • Kevin Brosnan

    Head Gamekeeper
    Department: Property & Land

    Kevin is responsible for wildlife management on the Heanton Estate in North Devon where he has worked since 1980. He also runs a commercial shoot for the Estate. His interest in gamekeeping began at a young age and he was only 16 years old when he started his first job on the Pixton Estate on Exmoor.  Kevin’s interests include wildlife, sport, cinema, history and field sports.

  • Gemma Cooke

    Arena Assistant
    Department: Bicton Arena

    Gemma joined Clinton Devon Estates in October 2011 as the Arena Assistant for Bicton Arena, helping to manage an ambitious calendar of equestrian events including Affiliated and Unaffiliated in-house competitions, one day events and camps. Dressage is Gemma’s passion and, in her spare time, she enjoys competing as well as spending time with her young daughter who is already showing signs of following her Mum’s  keen interest in horses. 

  • Paul Swain

    Senior Warden
    Department: Pebblebed Heaths

    Paul comes from a farming background and has been working with the Trust to conserve the Pebblebed heaths for over a decade, putting his long-standing machinery and animal husbandry skills to good use. Initially Assistant Warden, Paul took over the Senior Warden’s position in 2012 on the retirement of Bungy Williams and now leads the practical day-to-day management of the Commons.

    “What interests me most about the job is trying to recreate the management practices of the Commoners of the past using modern techniques. Keeping the heaths in good health is a challenge, but it is worthwhile when you see the results. An important part of the work is communicating what we do to the general public, and ensuring that we balance the needs of wildlife with those of society”. 

  • Linda Stanley

    Administration Assistant
    Department: Finance & Administration

    Linda provides administrative support to the Estates management team and is very often the first person you meet at reception. As well as handling telephone enquiries and co-ordinating meetings and staff travel, Linda looks after the administration for Lord Clinton’s Charitable Trust.

    Linda joined the Estates team in 2008 from Bicton College having previously worked for many years with Massey Ferguson and Dunlop in Warwickshire.

    In her spare time Linda enjoys walking in the Devon countryside and exploring local towns and villages. 

  • Kate Ponting

    Countryside Learning Officer
    Department: Pebblebed Heaths

    Kate joined the Estate in 2014 after 14 years as a primary school teacher. Her role is to help communicate the work of the Estate to the local community, and to broaden understanding of how and why the countryside is managed.

    Actively involved in local village life and with two young children, any spare time is spent enjoying gardening, walking, and singing in a number of local choirs.

  • Roger Tinson MBE

    Mansion Supervisor
    Department: Property & Land

    Roger manages a range of domestic and operational duties on the Heanton Estate. He also provides the administrative support for the commercial shoot. Roger joined Clinton Devon Estates in 2002, having served in the Royal Marines since 1974. During his career Roger was chosen to skipper the Combined Services Rugby team – the highlight of his sporting career.  

    Roger was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1999 for service to the Royal Marines. He is married with two children and five grandchildren and an active member of his local community, sitting on the Merton Village Hall Committee. 

  • Clare James

    Estates Surveyor
    Department: Property & Land

    Clare James is the Estates Surveyor with responsibility for the residential and agricultural properties on the East Devon and Beer Estates. Her passion and drive, since joining the Estates in 2002,   is to ensure the countryside is a living, working place.

    Clare is a committee member of the Devon and Cornwall Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Rural Group and held the Chairmanship in 2011/12.

    She lives in East Devon with her young family and, when time allows, she enjoys walking on the beach and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths along with some yoga and gardening. 

  • Graham Vanstone

    Accountant and Insurance Manager
    Department: Finance & Administration

    Graham Vanstone is one of Clinton Devon Estates’ longest serving members of staff, having joined in 1976 as a junior clerk in the accounts department. He is now responsible for property and land accounts, all insurance matters and human resources, ensuring that the organisation constantly meets all the criteria for Investor in People status.

    Graham has successfully helped the Clinton Devon Estates team win accolades including the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For and Employer of the Year 2012 in the Farming and Food Industry Awards.  Graham is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians and has diploma level membership of The Chartered Insurance Institute. He is a Regional Representative of the Council for The Insurance Institute for Exeter. In his leisure time, Graham enjoys tennis, and watching cricket, rugby and football. He is also a keen gardener and reader of crime novels.

We are trustees for life of the countryside

– 22nd Baron Clinton, 2002

Handing over something more valuable than we have today,

– Estates ethos

But our power for good or evil in this world’s affairs in a countryside is enormous

– Robert Lipscomb, Steward 1865 – 1892

…and the Lord Clinton was, by the whole Council, brought to the King’s presence, who after like thanks was given, was pleased that he should be made High Admiral of England and one of his Privy Council…

– Official record of appointment of 9th Baron Clinton as Lord High Admiral for life on 4th May 1550

Do what you can to elevate your profession. It is an honourable one

– Robert Lipscomb, Steward 1865 – 1892