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.

Neil Sutherland


Neil is the business owner and Managing Director of MAKAR Ltd which delivers services in the built environment sector from design frameworks and master-plans to house design, manufacture and assembly. The company, employing around 25 people, focuses on locally sourced timber construction using progressive off-site techniques and aims to deliver high quality, healthy buildings along with environmental accountability.

Neil engages widely with the policy agenda on the build environment and has formal links with higher education establishments and the construction industry. Based on the family farm just outside Inverness, Neil spends his weekends working with his wife on their organic vegetable farm.

Jo Cumming


Jo has a background in project management through her professional career as an occupational psychologist. She moved from the Central Belt to the Highlands in 2000 to found Glentruim Change Agents with her husband Ian Hall. They worked with individuals, teams and organisations wanting to become more effective.

From 2004-12, Jo and Ian owned and ran Laggan Stores. Over 8 years they created a ‘wee store with a big heart’, open 7 days, and renowned as a general store. Although privately owned, the shop was very much a social enterprise, serving a fragile Highland community. Jo enjoys training her young labrador, organic gardening, international cooking, orienteering and cycling.

Stephen Carr


Stephen moved to the Highlands in 2012 to work for the Highland Council as Principal Policy Officer. As part of this, he has overseen the Council’s strategic approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change for three years. More recently he has been focusing on the Council’s policy approach to local democracy, poverty, community empowerment, and has been involved in the restructure of the Council.

Before moving to the Highlands, Stephen completed a PhD in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, studying low-cost ways to remove pollutants from water. Before this he completed a Masters in hydrology, and he has a BSc in Physical Geography from the University of Newcastle.

Stephen grew up on a family-run farm in rural Norfolk. He is passionate about the Highlands, hill walking and cricket.

Emma Whitham


Emma has worked in the environmental sector for 20 years in a range of roles from policy and education to grassroots action. She is passionate about supporting and enabling transformational action towards local resilient communities that are healthy and flourishing.

Emma is the founder of MOO Food, a community food charity in Highland that has inspired communities far and wide to plant, eat and share local seasonal food, and she is co-founder of the Highland Good Food Partnership, a regional charity working with partners from diverse backgrounds to create a sustainable food system that is fair to people, planet and producers.  She is currently the lead for Highland Adapts, a place-based climate change adaptation partnership supporting the transition to a climate-ready Highland.

Catriona Mallows


Catriona grew up on the shores of the Cromarty Firth and has since returned to her Highland roots. After her undergraduate degree, she worked for several years in community development in Scotland and New Zealand and was a trustee for the 2050 Climate Group, Scotland’s youth climate group.

In 2018, she moved to Canada and completed a Master’s in Political Ecology at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Whilst there, she worked for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and also helped teach university courses in the School of Environmental Studies.

She currently works for Scottish Rural Action, campaigning for rural and island policy, and is also a freelance researcher and writer.

She loves running in the hills, climbing, and has a fascination with shellfish farming.

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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