Charlie Heap

Charlie Heap was a bird obsessed toddler, then a bird obsessed child, then a bird obsessed teenager………. Well you get the picture!

His first birds were a pair of Tawny Owls in 1980 – they were a gift from the renowned conservationist Mr Philip Wayre.

Charlie’s first falconry bird was Warren; a Common Buzzard. Warren arrived after Charlie met Jemima Parry-Jones at Chatsworth Country Fair in 1981. Warren lived until he was 27 years old. His daughter is still going strong and lives at NCBP!

Charlie worked at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent for a couple of years before starting a degree at the Royal Agricultural College in nearby Cirencester.

After graduating from the Royal Agricultural College he worked as a falconer for the Duke of Buccleuch at Drumlanrig Castle for 5 years.

He has started and run several businesses from clothing manufacture to property developing. Charlie is the day to day manager of the Centre and is director of the National Centre for Birds of Prey.

When not at Duncombe, Charlie tries his best to be a half decent husband to Vicki and he enjoys teaching his son, William, how to misbehave.

Charlie Heap and Steller's Sea Eagle at National Centre for Birds of Prey
Charlie Heap at the National Centre for Birds of Prey, Duncombe Park, Helmsley UK

Katie Bass

Katie joined us in March 2015, having worked and volunteered at ICBP Newent for several years and she has her own Kestrel called Sky.

In 2010 Katie volunteered in Kenya in an environmental programme.

She is also a talented photographer. Katie can be seen doing flying demonstrations and scrubbing aviaries! She has a bit of a Brummy accent ( she says that she has lost it – but she hasn’t!), but we’ll get her talking proper Yorkshire before long!

Katie is our Head Falconer.

Katie Bass - miserable Brummy

Dr Vicki Lamb

Vicki has the dubious pleasure of being Charlie’s wife.

She played a major part in the fight to get planning permission.

Vicki has spent most of her working life as an embryologist. However 2019 saw her take a new direction as she took over the Owl House Cafe.

Vicki also makes sure that the NCBP complies with the ever growing mountain of red tape and legislation. She also acts as a part-time HR department, occasional caterer for Winter Owl Evenings and proof reader for websites and signs!

The luckiest girl in the world

Ronnie Hunter

Ronnie started as maternity cover for Katie, but we liked her so much that we asked her to stay as a permanent member of staff!

She recently graduated from Askham Bryan with a degree in Animal Management and Science.

She has spent a great deal of time with birds – she grew up in a house with 6 parrots!

You will often see her around the centre taking owl selfies 🙂

Sarah Brierley

Sarah has volunteered for us for a couple of years – and in early 2017 she joined us as a full-time member of bird staff.

Sarah has a degree in Animal Management from Sparsholt college and has done an internship at Chester Zoo.

Sarah can be found doing everything from cleaning aviaries, to training birds to doing flying demos. She also coordinates our volunteer programme, and less glamorously, she runs the faecal testing programme!

When not at work, Sarah can be found either in John Lewis or Waitrose. Her favourite thing to do is to get wildly overexcited about the slightest thing 🙂

Sarah Brierley

Kevin Nixon

Along with Ben, Kevin runs the shop and welcomes our visitors. He joined us in November 2017 having moved to the area to be with his partner. Although not bird staff he can be found on his days off checking his flock of Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpingtons and rescue hens.

Kevin could have previously been described as an international man of fortune, enjoying life as an expat for three years in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul as well as a short time living in Belfast (less glamourous). Other notable events in his life include sleeping in numerous places from a bedouin camp in the Sinai Desert to wild camping in the Cuillin Mountains.  He is at present trying to regain some of his cycling prowess having in the past cycled from Lincoln to London and done the Coast to Coast.

Ben Browning

Ben is one of the people involved in running our shop and entrance gate.

Ben grew up locally and has spent his whole life in Ryedale. He recently bought a house locally with his new wife – Ilona

He is weirdly flexible and can put both his feet behind his head however please don’t ask him to do this during work hours!!

Ben’s responsibilities include welcoming visitors, choosing shop stock and advising people on how to grow massive moustaches.

Ben Browning at the National Centre for Birds of Prey, Duncombe Park, Helmsley UK