Amanda Vesty

I am the founder of Ancient and Sacred Trees, with over 50,000 members & rising. Its’ ethos is PositiviTree for CommuniTree celebrating peoples ancient and sacred connections with trees. AST is an eco-activist, mental health and wellbeing group aiming to rewild humans, campaigning for cultural change, protecting and planting trees. The passion members have for the natural world has really inspired me so much and gives me hope for the future of our planet. AST is now a Community Interest Company.

I am passionate about ecology, wellbeing and social justice. I am a qualified teacher and have a BA Hons and a PGCE in Art, as well as being a therapeutic arts coach, writer, historian, storyteller, blessing giver, sound healer, forest guide and tree temple keeper. The happiness and wellbeing of people and the planet have informed my career for nearly thirty years.

Working in mainstream, special and further education, I’ve been lucky enough to work with many different communities including mental health groups, neural diverse, elderly, refugees, disaffected youth, and young offenders in prison. My last role in a school was in special education as Head of Art, SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning), and PELTS (Personal Learning and Thinking Skills). I set up the art department working with children and young people with severe emotional and behavourial difficulties, psychiatric and/or psychological needs, many of whom were in the care system.

My focus was on providing can-do, confidence building and therapeutic activities in art and cross curricular activities. I run nature, art and wellbeing activities. I am a tutor with the WEA Workers Education Assocaition social justice charity taking education our into the community.

Unusual achievements include working in my twenties with a drama therapist as 2 Bright Sparks writing, performing and running workshops in mythical stories. Creating 15 foot gigants (giant puppets) commissioned by the council for the Manchester Millennium Parade led to a gala event with the prime minister. A founder member of Hot Bed Press an open access community arts studio still going strong 25 years later. I set up and ran Jack-In-The-Green art studio and ethical gift shop for a number of years before taking it online.

I once did an all-night vigil on top of Cader Idris mountain in Wales. Legend says you either end up dead, mad or a poet. I also did a pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick mountain in Ireland. I have nearly died twice, once when I was attacked and once in hospital after the birth of my daughter. The first death experience in my early twenties led me on a personal journey to enlightenment and shamanism. Having grown up in the countryside it was nature that pulled me out of the darkness. As a modern culture we are not encouraged to be open about death and this has had serious consequences for both our health and the wellbeing of our planet. It is not dying that is the fear but the manner of our passing. A good death should bring new life.

I have a beautiful daughter called Jasmine and we live in Cheshire with my little dog Bella.

Dawn - Director of Communications

I am sitting by the grave of my mum and dad with tree blossoms tumbling from the skies.

The blossoms dancing in the wind making me reflect on my life and I feel so blessed to have lived the enriched life I have enjoyed so far.

For more than 30 years I have been an owner of multiple award-winning successful businesses that have bought me great material wealth. But the focus on wealth crucified my inner joy...

So, over the past 10 years I have been discovering and using tools and techniques to get me from business burn out and wasting fortunes to finding fun, freedom and fulfilment. I am offering the tools and techniques I discovered in motivational talks and workshops...

Nicole - Managing Director

I grew up in Australia and after 15 years in the UK, I have recently returned to the wide spaces and endless skies.

A few years before leaving Australia on my round-the-world adventure, my father died after 6 months of fighting cancer. He was strong in body and mind, and he was determined to fight this illness, until the final few days when he surrendered and said goodbye to us.

Our family created a very memorable celebration of his life; we sang around his coffin at the funeral, just like we had in the hospital for the weeks and months he was ill; I hung the positive affirmation posters that had brightened his stark hospital walls on fabric for all to see at his wake. Little did I know that years later these experiences would form the cornerstone of my future work...

Jo - Director of Standards

My name is Jo Nicoles and I operate Three Shires Independent Funeral Services based in Congleton Cheshire.

My father died when I was just 10 years old and my mother followed when I was only 29. Through seeing their funeral services first-hand, I felt there was something missing that made me think I could do it better. That was in 2004 and it made me determined that I could and should look to do this as a career path.

A friend’s father was a funeral director and I asked him for help. He gave me some work experience which I then used to acquire work with larger funeral homes. After 14 years of this... in 2018 I set up my own business and have taken pride in giving people the send-off they deserve, whilst offering the families the facilities, service, and value they need...

Jean - Chairwoman & Creative Director

Having arrived into this world in 1939, two months before World War II began, I can remember ration books and gas masks! As a very sensitive child I cried bitterly when flowers in a vase died, not to mention the anguish of losing my darling Dad. The war years were lean, if we didn’t have it, my Dad would make it, he was a master of ‘make do and mend'.

I grew up with my brother and sister in the countryside, and our greatest treat was to go for walks with our Dad. He taught us the names of the wild flowers, butterflies, birds and trees, instilling in me a deep love and respect for nature that would stay with me always. It now gives me great pleasure to share this knowledge with my three grandchildren...