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The OPT team

Debbie Dance OBE, MSc, FRICS, IHBC, RSA

Director

Debbie Dance has been the Director of Oxford Preservation Trust since 1999. She was brought up locally and has spent her career in the built and natural environment working as a chartered surveyor in the commercial market before being awarded a distinction in her MSc Historic Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the early 1990s and moving into the Heritage world.  She has worked in London, Birmingham and Oxford, and has completed a number of award winning conservation projects including OPT’s regeneration of Oxford Castle. 

Debbie has held a number of honorary national roles, and is currently Chair of the Historic Chapels Trust.  She has been past Chair of the Historic Towns Forum, UK Association of Preservation Trusts and a former Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund South East and Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust and conservation judge for International RICS Property Awards.  Debbie was awarded an OBE for her services to Heritage in 2013 and made an Honorary Doctor of Oxford Brookes University in 2018.

Debbie is also on the Board of Experience Oxfordshire, the County’s tourism destination organisation and a Trustee of the Oxford Playhouse.

Ros Connell

Membership Officer

Ros joined OPT, first as a volunteer for Oxford Open Doors 2018, and then to work with Stephen on membership and events. After 10 years working as Development Officer for Linacre College and 20 years in academic publishing, Ros will be in the office 3 days a week, leaving her time for gardening and taking her Morris Minor to historic houses.

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Stephen Dawson
Stephen Dawson

Development Officer

Stephen joined the OPT Team in 2016 and alongside his colleague Ros, looks after our membership, events and fundraising including organising our annual Oxford Open Doors event.  Prior to this, Stephen worked on various fundraising projects including an endowment campaign for the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.  In his spare time, Stephen volunteers for various Community & Charitable organisations.

Hywel Edwards

Finance & Governance Officer

Hywel has recently joined OPT as part-time Finance & Governance Officer. An accountant, he has spent the last 30 years working for Housing Associations in London and more recently in Witney. He is treasurer to two organisations based in Eynsham, where he lives, one working for a fossil fuel free future and the other being a charity running an orchard. 

Rachel Sanderson
Rachel Sanderson

Land Officer

Rachel Sanderson joined Oxford Preservation Trust in 2016, bringing with her a broad range of experience in managing land in an ecologically sensitive way.  She has previously worked for BBOWT, the Chiltern Woodlands Project and the Chilterns Conservation Board.

Laura Warden

Laura joined the OPT Team at the start of 2019 as their Senior Planning Officer.  She has over 15 years of town planning experience having previously worked for both the public and private sectors, including West Oxfordshire District Council, RPS, Kemp & Kemp and Edgars Limited.  Laura’s experience covers development control issues, in addition to working on behalf and alongside local community groups and assisting them with the general planning process.  When away from the office, she is kept busy by her young family and when possible likes to get involved with a number of local groups where she lives.