Directors and Advisory Board


Current Directors of Reading Hydro Community Benefit Society

Our Directors are all voluntary and add different backgrounds and expertise to Reading Hydro, united in their passion to build lasting sustainable impact for Reading’s community.

The Directors are a friendly bunch, so do get in touch.

Sophie Paul 

I delight in the smell of the water going over Caversham Weir, along with the sight and sound of power in that water.”

Sophie has lived in Reading for 22 years. She has a background in hydrogeology, IT development, governance and strategy, in addition to many years of involvement in a wide range community projects in the UK and abroad. 

Anne Wheldon

“Since retiring, Reading Hydro is an exciting extension of implementing energy efficiency and solar in my own home, alongside helping others. We really need to have more hydro to give a balanced sustainable energy supply mix, and where better to do it than in Reading.”

Anne started life as a physicist, quickly steering this towards the environment with a PhD in environmental physics. Now retired, she spent a large part of her career in sustainable energy and international development. A large part was at the University of Reading, running the MSc in Renewable Energy and the Environment. More recently, she worked for 12 years for the sustainable energy charity Ashden as technical director and adviser. With a love of numbers, a main theme of her career has been encouraging people to look critically at numbers and ask questions about them.

Tony Cowling 

” Passions of mine are both renewable energy and driving forward sustainability through Education. Originating from The Reading Sustainability Centre the Hydro project combines the two!”

Tony graduated from Reading University in the seventies with a PhD in chemistry. Inspired by sustainability, he’s been involved in a variety of initiatives in Reading and beyond,  including, Reading Energy Pioneers and the DraughtBusters project initiative of ‘Transition Town Reading.  He also built his own very low-energy house.

Sarah Rigby

“Reading has a long history of using its rivers for power and it would be great to continue that with a community owned hydro scheme here at the weir.”

Sarah’s long standing love of renewable energy saw her follow a degree in Engineering, and a masters in Environmental Technology & Energy Policy. Her experience of asset strategy and innovation roles in the water and electricity industries meant that she jumped at the chance of involvement with the Hydro community energy project.

Michael Beaven

“I’ve seen new turbines start generating renewable electricity elsewhere on the Thames, and am inspired by the work that has been done to make this happen in Reading too.”

Michael has a background in finance and fundraising in the voluntary sector, and works for Our Community Enterprise, an employee-owned company based in Maidenhead.  He is also a Director of MaidEnergy, a renewable energy co-op that has installed 100kW of solar panels on community buildings, financed by a Community Share offer to the public.


Chris Brooke

A civil servant and Geography graduate of the university of Reading, Chris has considered Reading his home for the last 10 years. With a keen interest in clean, sustainable energy, Chris offers both administrative and project management advice to the hydro project.


John Brunnen

As a chartered accountant interested in creating a more sustainable environment for the community of Reading, John is crucial in assisting with the financial aspects of the Reading Hydro business model and day to day accounts.


Erica Purvis (Former Director )

“I enjoy finding my thoughts and re-energising on runs and walks out in nature (often over Caversham Weir), you can really see the potential energy in the water as you cross”

Erica has a background in Design Engineering and Sustainability, with experience in strategic insight and development in this for businesses, NGO’s, students and startups. She works as TechnicalNature. This has led her to act as a connector between Product, People and Policy based approaches to drive sustainability forward creatively. From strategy and visioning to practical action and getting stuck in. She’s found that communication between different stakeholders is a vital component for this!

Anthony Simpson (former co-opted Director)

“I am very excited to join such a well organised, community-led initiative we can all be proud of!”

Anthony recently moved to Reading from Oxfordshire, where he led the development of 25 community funded solar projects on local schools. He has an MSc in Renewable Energy, and currently works for the University of Reading, on the smart grid integration of electric vehicles, to minimise system carbon emissions and costs. You my have seen his recent talk on this at Reading Geek Night.

Claire Thompson (ClaireAtWaves)

“This is SUCH an exciting project, bringing together the things I love: great technology, great people and the river.”

A professional PR consultant (Waves PR), Claire moved to Reading some years ago and has raised her two children locally. She has ties with the river having spent several years living on a beautiful barge, Eva Luna, and watching her eldest kayaking.