Meet the Sefton NNR Team

By Natalie Coffey

Our work on the Sefton Coast covers over 4,500 hectares of sand dunes, including at Ainsdale Sand Dunes NNR (led by Natural England) and Formby (led by National Trust). Meet the team behind the project below!

Dave Mercer

Name: Dave Mercer

Role: Senior Reserve Manager Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve.

I’m excited about Dynamic Dunescapes because it is making it possible for us to carry out some of our more ambitious projects - at long last!  The funding also means that we can provide a lot of fun activities for the public - something that hasn’t been possible for quite a few years.

Fun fact: when I’m not conserving sand dunes I’m playing rock guitar.

Natalie Coffey

Name: Natalie Coffey

Role: People Engagement Officer

My role is all about connecting people with the sand dunes. I’ll be working with schools, families and volunteers to help rejuvenate our sand dunes. I will also running events on the sand dunes, keep an eye out for our Dune Den! The Dynamic Dunescapes project is a really exciting and innovative project and I can’t wait to hear all about your dune memories and help you make new ones!

Fun Fact: I’m actually a published poet!

Nat H

Name: Natalie Hunt

Role: Site lead for Dynamic Dunescapes project on the Sefton Coast

What excites you about the project?  Seeing heather returning to dune heath habitat after our restoration works and knowing that we’ve played a part in keeping a piece of rare habitat from disappearing completely.

Fun fact:  I love all things coastal, botanical and entomological and I have a ‘mild’ obsession with solitary bees!


Name: Katie Finkill-Coombs

Role: Hi! I’m Katie Finkill-Coombs. I’m a Lead Adviser in the Cheshire and Lancashire area team and have 8 years of experience working on the coastal environment at Natural England. I work with a hard-working and enthusiastic team here at the Ainsdale NNR.

What excites you about the project:

This is a fantastic opportunity to make some major changes and help restore our dune system on the Sefton Coast. To be honest, it’s quite daunting the amount of work there is to do, but I’m really excited to get the capital work projects underway and move in the right direction for nature conservation. I’m looking forward to getting the Citizen Science app up and running and engaging with the local community to help monitor all the work we’ve achieved with the help from our partners and land owners.

I am yet to see a sand lizard so fingers crossed it won’t be too long until I spot one basking in the newly created bare sand!

Fact: During ‘lockdown’ I’ve had a go at clay pottery making lots of different plant pots, pencil pots and little bowls. Every room in our house is now full of quirky house plants!

Pete Selfie

Name: Peter Gahan

Role: Reserve Manager at Ainsdale and Cabin Hill Sand Dunes NNR, Ribble Estuary NNR. General habitat management and dune restoration for a range of dune fauna and flora with particular emphasis on Herptiles.

What excites you about the project? After 30 years of trying to stave off encroaching vegetation within of one of the most interesting dune systems in England I am pleased to be involved in this refreshing and much needed approach to dune management.

Fun fact: Long before the Ainsdale dunes were classified as a nature reserve my father was ejected by the landowner for carrying out bird ringing.


Name: Molly

Role: Sheepdog

What excites you about the project? Lots of people around in the office to take me on walks and give me attention.  More open dunes mean more room for sheep which means more running around after them!

Fun Fact: Tony Meadow is employed full-time as a warden to take me into work each day and drive me around in a land rover to check on the livestock.  I am retiring at Christmas (so Tony will have to as well in order to look after me)

Barry selfie 1

Name: Barry Smith

Role: My name is Barry Smith and I have worked as a reserve manager at Natural England for just over three years. I work within a small team managing three national nature reserves, two of which are part of the dynamic dunescapes project.

What excites you about the project? Being a reserve manager really is a dream job for me, I love wildlife, working outdoors and there is so much variety to the role, even the office work isn’t that bad! I have lived on the Sefton coast for my entire life, the scope and range of the dynamic dunescapes project is great and I’m really excited about the landscape scale conservation work that will take place at Ainsdale NNR – It feels like we are going to make huge steps in conserving and rejuvenating the dune system.

Fun Fact: I play guitar (badly) and I’m currently in the process of building my 90’s grunge collection on vinyl – My favourite album at the moment is Alice in Chains – Facelift, but this changes on a weekly basis!