For a Fairer & More Sustainable World.

Sustainable Renovation Guide

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Penny Edwards


Penny began her career in nature and woodland conservation, with an employment history spanning the Central Scotland Countryside Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Within the environmental field she has considerable experience of business and strategic planning, community engagement, volunteering and project and programme management, all of which were put to good use in her own environmental consultancy.

In her second career Penny established Falkirk Wood, a local timber processing company which provided characterful local hardwood timbers into local markets. This was sold as a going concern in 2008. She now runs Stoneybank Furniture Workshop, a small furniture and upholstery business.

Penny has worked in a voluntary capacity for a wide range of environmental organisations. She is a past Trustee of Transition Black Isle and is a past Chair and current Director of the Culbokie Community Trust which is working to develop a new community hub in the village.

Penny lives on the Black Isle and her spare time is spent in the garden and in the local countryside.

Martin Sherring


Most of Martin’s working life has been as a chartered accountant, including 9 years with Price Waterhouse (now PWC) in London and 12 years as Finance Director of Canvas Holidays. He also worked with Penny Edwards as a partner in Falkirk Wood, and when that was sold he retrained and briefly carried out consultancy work on domestic energy before putting his training to use in the construction of his and Penny’s new Passive House in Culbokie, one of the most northerly in Britain.

Martin is also a trustee of Transition Black Isle and The Highland Good Food Partnership, and a director of Scotland the Bread. He enjoys being outdoors, in the garden or the hills.

Nicolas Gubbins


Nicholas worked in the field for the Nature Conservancy Council for 10 years before joining Scottish Natural Heritage where he focused on policy and project development around the wide area of sustainable development. In 2000, he moved to Highlands and Islands Enterprise where he was Head of Community Regeneration, working on community development programmes and social enterprise initiatives.

He was the founding CEO of the Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company and then Community Energy Scotland which has supported hundreds of community energy projects of all sorts across Scotland. He retired from CES in 2021. Along with being a trustee of the Pebble Trust, Nicholas is a director of HISEZ & helps with the work of Community Energy Malawi.

Sarah Allen


Sarah began her career as an Adviser with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot) and Highland Council. She also worked in a self-employed capacity producing short broadcasts for BBC Radio Scotland on rural issues, and as a consultant for Rural Analysis Associates.

From 2002-09 Sarah was appointed to the board of the Crofters Commission (now Crofting Commission) and subsequently chaired the Scottish Government’s Review of the Bull Hire Scheme. She also worked as a Regional Assistant for a Highlands & Islands MSP, managing constituents’ casework.

More recently Sarah was Head of Tenant Farming at the Scottish Land Commission which focussed on promoting good relationships between agricultural tenants and landlords. To assist this, she set up a mediation scheme which subsequently led to her becoming a Trustee of Scottish Mediation.

Currently Sarah is a consultant at BiGGAR Economics helping to deliver their ethos of “meaningful impact” in their increasing portfolio of innovative community and rural projects.

Catriona Mallows


Catriona grew up on the shores of the Cromarty Firth and has since returned to her Highland roots. She has worked in Scotland, Canada and New Zealand in community development, rural and environmental policy and campaigning, and research.

She currently works as a Research Associate with the Centre for Mountain Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, where she has interests in coastal and mountainous ecosystems and the people who depend upon and contribute to them, rural community development, and land reform.

She loves running in the hills, climbing, or being by the sea.

Julie Shortreed


After studying languages, Julie spent the first part of her career in the European travel industry working in France then for 9 years with Canvas Holidays as Contracts Manager. After returning to study in 1999, she spent her second career in Information Services at Abertay University.  Julie took early retirement and moved to the Black Isle in 2017.

She joined The Pebble Trust as administrator shortly afterwards. She spends most of her spare time in the outdoors, cycling, hillwalking or kayaking as well as trying to develop an edible and wildlife friendly garden.

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