The Society’s committee are members who have volunteered to organise the activities of the Society and generally make it function as the organisation it is today. Although we take on formal titles out of tradition, it’s a fairly informal committee. If you’re at one of our events and want to know more about the Society, please come and speak to one of us.
The committee members for 2020–21 are:
Science teacher by day, astronomer by night, Jamie allegedly leads a BeeGee's tribute band in his spare time. He also has the honour of being the Chairman of the society. We say honour...
Clare's shoe collection continues to grow for reasons unknown to science. Our ace organiser keeps the committee in line and has learnt some astronomy too. We recently discovered her fiendish side when she set quizzes for us.
Lead for the social media team.
Andy is man of many talents and has recently learnt to say no. Our former talks co-ordinator now focusses on our finances and keeps all the numbers in the correct boxes.
Brian MatthewsObservatory Director
Brian is something of a genius when it comes to both woodwork and welding. As long as he doesn't get the welding tools and the woodwork ones mixed up, everything will be fine.
Lee ButlerEquipment Director
Lee's profile photo arrived with the title "Honestly, this is about the best I can do." We're not entirely sure if that refers to the moustache, the T-shirt or the obvious Photoshop. Often found out in secluded parts of the countryside where he assures us he's up to nothing more sinister than astrophotography.
Cheryl MatthewsYoung Astronomers Club Director
Cheryl is charge of our young astronomers clubs, or YAC master as we like to call her. She's also our queen of baking and provides cakes for the Thursday night club meetings.
Matthew BarrettOutreach Officer
If you have a school, brownie, cub, guide, scout group, etc wanting to book an astronomy event, then Matthew is your man.
Martin BrackenTalks Co-Ordinator
Martin is a keen member of our imaging group and always willing to give guidance to those who needed it. We always look forward to seeing what Zoom background he has chosen.
Andy DownmanCommittee Member
Likes to shop for astronomy related goods. King of the barbecues too. (Mrs D plays a key role here).
Paul BlakesleyCommittee Member
Paul is a long-time member of the Society. Many of you will have met him at one of outreach activities. As well as astronomy he lists racing cars, James Bond and Prince as interests. And scaring adults at Halloween, but that’s another story.
James ExcellCommittee Member
James lists tomato ketchup and cola (no brand names mentioned) as important ingredient in all meals and snacks. Recently promoted to the role of John's chauffeur, he has now reduced the average age of the committee by a considerable amount.
Una AlexanderCommittee Member
We met Una before she joined NEAS when she was house hunting and wanted dark sky advice. Since she joined she has become an active member, although we aren't sure why keep her baking prowess a secret for so long.
Val is our generous patron who kindly gives us access to the site where our observatory is. She is at the observatory every week and is always accompanied by astro-dogs and honorary members "Smudge" and "Yippee"
SmudgeAstro-Dog (non voting)
Smudge gets very excited on Thursdays as he knows it's our club night and he will get to see us. Favourite activities including pretending he's never been fed and chasing a light around the floor.
YippeeAstro-Dog (non voting)
Yippee's background is a mystery and when he first arrived on the scene he was a powerhouse of excitement and energy. He's now much calmer but just like Smudge he too will pretend he's never been fed.
Ian LauwerysOutreach Crew
Ian loves astro-photography due to his uncanny ability to sit around in front of the telly for hours whilst his telescope is outside in the cold. Formally our 'head of special projects' (which we think is code for 'finding the nearest pub), he's most recent triumph was building a portable meteor detector using, amongst other things, a tape measure.
Part of the social media team.
John ExcellOutreach Crew
An keen support of all outreach activities, John always brings two telescopes to outreach events. Rumours that he's overcompensating for something, are hotly denied. Proudest moment: Successfully identifying Cassiopeia without Simon's help.
Simon GilfrinOutreach Crew
Simon has demonstrated great artistic skill and has his own mug at the Observatory - touch it at your peril. His grand designs for a laser glove have yet to come to fruition, but we're sure it won't be long. Favourite thing to talk about: The Garnet Star. Do ask him about it, but please make sure we're not around first.
Chris HolmesOutreach Crew
When Chris joined NEAS he quickly discovered that if he asks how he can help, we will find him a job! And that's not put him off (yet).
Leo JennerOutreach Crew
Pictured here with a Geiger Counter (yes really) Leo goes by the nickname of Astro Ninja for reasons that are too complicated to explain here. He spent two years in CERN trying to create a black hole; rumours that he's trying to get the YAC to do this are hotly disputed.
Rachel EatonOutreach Crew
In a department of scientists, Rachel has managed to earn herself the title of "geek". That's quite an achievement!
Dee ParkerOutreach Crew
Dee uses the stories behind the constellations making her descriptions of the night sky almost poetic. Also discoverer of space worms - slightly less poetic.
Terry ReganOutreach Crew
Terry is a model man. And by that we mean he makes models. He is the Chief Spacecraft Model Builder for the Institute of Interstellar Studies.
And last, but definitely not least, the editor of Pulsar.
Recently press-ganged - sorry let's try again. Peter recently volunteered to be the new editor of Pulsar and as we speak he is keenly awaiting for articles to flood in.
Our Honorary Presidents
Andrew Ritchie Green BSc (Hons) FRASHonorary President
Andy Green is a long-time friend to the Society and is well-known across the globe giving lectures, sharing his passion for astronomy.
As well as being the Director & Senior Lecturer for Stardome Planetarium, he is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Director of Anglo-Australian Astronomy Education Partnership, regularly giving tours in Iceland on the Aurora Borealis, while also a good friend of Apollo astronaut Charles Duke!
- Director & Senior Lecturer - StarDome Astronomy & Astronautics
- Fellow - Royal Astronomical Society
- Honorary President North Essex Astronomical Society
- Consultant Aurora and Eclipse Astronomer & Travel Guide
- Cunard Line "Insights" Lecturer
- Director - AAAEP Astro Education - Australia
- Freelance Space Journalist & Broadcaster
Dr Suzie ImberHonorary President
You may recognise Dr Suzie Imber as the winner of the 2017 BBC series "Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?"
Since then, Dr Imber has been on various media outlets and we sincerely hope that she will be the first NEAS member to make it into space!
Dr Imber's day job is a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, at the University of Leicester, where her main area of research is the magnetosphere of Mercury; including being the co-investigator on the MIXS instrument on board ESA's BepiColombo.