GreenSpirit Council

Hilary Norton lives in East London. Her four children are grown up but apart from one son in Japan, they live nearby. She is an active grandparent. She loves being in the east end and cycles most places. Hilary believes strongly in making cities greener places to be, so supports the London Wildlife Trust, Woodcraft Folk, sustainable architecture, allotment gardening and other local green initiatives. She sings in, and helps to run, a local community choir.

Hilary has played a key role in GreenSpirit since the mid-1990s. As well as serving on Council, she runs a local GreenSpirit group in Stratford and organises some zoom meetings for GreenSpirit, and in person: both the annual GreenSpirit walking holiday/retreat and ‘Wild Week’ in Snowdonia.

Stephen Wollaston was given the name Santoshan (contentment) by an English swami in the mid-90s. He is a Psychosynthesis counsellor, OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation minister, graphic designer, writer, teacher and musician. He holds a BA honours degree in religious studies and a postgraduate certificate in religious education from King’s College London, trained in transpersonal counselling at the Psychosynthesis Trust and typographic design at the London College of Printing. In the late 70s he was the principal bass guitarist of one of London’s first punk rock bands, The Wasps. Additionally, he has helped war refugees and long-term unemployed students with English language skills and was an academic writing coordinator at a medical university in the Middle East for four years.

He is the current Chair of GreenSpirit’s Publications Committee, has been a trustee of GreenSpirit since 2012, is the main typographic designer of GreenSpirit Magazine and the GreenSpirit Book Series, and has edited and contributed to titles in the Series. He began writing various green and interspiritual books in the early 90s when a long-time close friend asked him to collaborate on an extensive development manual with him and write on areas  he is passionate about, particularly transpersonal growth. Since then, he has authored, coauthored and edited over a dozen books on different areas of Eastern and Western spirituality, including Spirituality Unveiled: Awakening to Creative Life, Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth-Centred Spirituality, and Realms of Wondrous Gifts: Psychic, Mediumistic and Miraculous Powers in the Great Mystical and Wisdom Traditions, which objectively assesses different teachings and beliefs.

Chris Holmes’s conversion to a green ethos was gradual but thorough. He worked for nearly three decades in the financial markets , and as Director of a large City institution was instrumental in the introduction and development of  ‘green’ investment funds – one of the few activities he feels good about during this period! Since leaving the financial sector in the mid 1990s he has spent his time in voluntary work and developing a range of eco-related interests.

His hobbies include working three organic allotment plots, walking, running, natural bodybuilding, tennis, playing guitar and banjo, the Christian contemplative tradition and retreat movement, local history and the poetry of John Clare. Chris is married to Jill, also a ‘greenspiriter’, and lives in Surrey. He has been involved with GreenSpirit for 12 years and on the Council for most of that time. He says: “It is home for me emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. I feel blessed to be part of this movement.”  He is also involved with the Green Party, Garden Organic, the John Clare Society, the Thomas Merton Society among others.

Janice Every joins the Council bringing a wealth of charity management experience. Her work has taken her from an early career in publishing, through school administration while her children were young, to enjoying managing one of the largest complementary health and education centres in England, and latterly, onto developing and expanding the role of Chief Officer of a regional charity supporting people with sight impairment. If asked, she would describe herself as a person-centred manager, getting things done by respecting others’ skills and abilities. Janice is also a psychotherapist, and is just completing her training as a spiritual healer.

She has developed her love and passion for the Earth and for protecting the environment over many decades, and has been associated with GreenSpirit for over ten years. Janice, alongside her husband, helped to found a local GreenSpirit group, ‘Ryedale and North Yorkshire Coast’, which has enjoyed celebrating the festivals of the Celtic calendar over the past few years. She considers the work of GreenSpirit as integral to her own spirituality, with its emphasis on celebrating the awe and beauty of living on our unique planet. Janice has also been a Quaker for many years.

Employing her existing skills and experience, she looks forward to learning new ones and taking on new challenges in what she considers her ‘new adventure’ serving on Council and helping to inspire the membership and beyond.

Richard Adams has a longstanding interest in appropriate technology, education and holistic herbal medicine. He helped to establish Europe’s first BSc Honours degree in Herbal Medicine. Richard lives and practises Herbal Medicine in London, England. He enjoys hill walking, music making and the theatre.

In response to his heartfelt need to think differently, from his conditioned thinking, about the natural world, he is exploring an earth centred consciousness that engages people’s hearts and minds, creatively, with Mother Nature. He finds that new values, morals and ethics emerge from such adventures which, in turn, inform his actions in the world.

Richard first came across GreenSpirit  in the mid 1990s  at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, when informally researching the life of William Blake. He finds GreenSpirit to be a stimulating and nurturing community that engages with issues relevant to the human and other than human communities.

Jenny Leslie: I am based in Hemel Hempstead and I have two sons and three granddaughters living in Hampshire. I love living in the Chilterns, it is a beautiful area. I help in a local rewilding venture, where I am part of working parties cutting back scrub, so there is more room for wildflowers and also insects and birds.

I am a fairly new member of GreenSpirit, I discovered you all in lockdown, just over two years ago.

After a rather wild adolescence and some major traumas, I had an ‘awakening’ and became passionate about Nature and developed a very real spirituality. As a result of this I trained as a gardener and worked as a gardener for 30 years. Alongside of this I trained as a counsellor and later as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with a Jungian perspective. After 20 years I am preparing to retire.

Most recently I have got a degree in Textiles. I use natural dyes and natural products for my artwork. This is my current passion, and I try to ignite the interest of the public in environmental issues and climate change through my artwork.

Chris Newsam (Sylvan Michael) is an ordained interfaith minister, Quaker and Unitarian. He lives with his wife Janice, also a Council Member, in Malton in North Yorkshire. Chris has held a passion for the environment and for economic and social justice for many years and enjoys public speaking and organising seminars and retreats. Alongside a small group of people he helped found and has run a local GreenSpirit group for over five years which primarily meets to celebrate the eight Celtic festivals. Chris loves storytelling as a means of drawing people into a closer relationship with the more than human world. Chris has a particular interest in Animism holding that “the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” – Thomas Berry. Chris has been associated with GreenSpirit for over 15 years and is thrilled to be part of Council. He says ‘I am delighted to serve this wonderful charity and consider it to be an integral part of my spiritual home’.

Liz Beaven: I have been a member of GreenSpirit for several years and joined the Southampton group when it was originally led by Chris and Isobel Clarke. I had been on my own spiritual quest for authenticity for some decades, starting with a more fundamentalist and evangelical approach which I found increasingly restrictive. I could not sit comfortably with the doctrines and lack of inclusivity, so it was a great relief to find GreenSpirit which resonated with me on so many levels. I have always been a lover of Nature and the landscape and spent many summers up in Cumbria plus the Lancashire and Yorkshire moors as a child. The Romantic poets spoke truth to me in their celebration of the natural world and the sacredness of the Earth.

I have two grown-up children, a boy, and a girl and now four small grandsons, who keep me very busy, including an eight-month-old baby.

My career has been mainly within teaching both in English literature and in a specialist teacher role for children and adults with dyslexia and other specific difficulties, which I have done for many years. I’m also involved in some community work with people with mild dementia and I also assist with parenting groups and some family work. This is through a local charity connected with the URC church. I’m also a member of the Unitarian Church in Southampton which is low on numbers. I run the Southampton GreenSpirit Local Group which meets at the church premises, and they are very happy to work with us. I am keen to do whatever I am able to help the environment so that this beautiful Earth can thrive.

GreenSpirit’s coordinator, though not a council member, attends all council meetings

Ian Mowll is GreenSpirit’s Coordinator and many people’s first point of contact with the organization. It is a role that he loves. Ian’s career started with computing in the financial markets, followed by charity/social enterprise work and now he is more and more involved in spiritual development.

Some of the things he loves to do are: cooking, storytelling, 5 rhythms dancing and having ideas. He lives in Stratford, East London.

Ian has been involved in GreenSpirit since 1999 and sees it as his spiritual home. He says: “Finding GreenSpirit was the first time I found somewhere where I truly felt I could be spiritually ‘me’ without having to pretend. When joining GreenSpirit, occasionally people use the phrase ‘welcome home’ – a phrase that feels good to me.” He is also involved with the OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation and is an independent celebrant.