OATA’s Board of Directors represent the entire ornamental aquatic industry, from importers to retailers, wholesalers to manufacturers, and are elected by members at our Annual General Meeting in November.
Directors must stand for re-election every three years. Any of our members may be nominated to stand for election to the Board of Directors; if you would like to be considered for election, please contact the current OATA Chairman.
Ruth Low – Chairman
Ruth Low took over as Chair in 2016. She works at UK pond liner manufacturer and trade supplier Gordon Low Products.
Kevin Rose – Vice Chair
I have been working within the industry for 30 years and owned Lynchford Aquatics with my business partner for 20 years. The business itself is one of the oldest independent Aquatic Shops in the country having been established since the mid 1950’s. We specialise in all aspects of Aquatics including Marines and Ponds and over that time we have built strong professional relationships with many leading manufacturers and suppliers.
We have been OATA members for some time and understand the benefit to the industry that has been achieved by their efforts in protecting the hobby from external pressures. As such I joined the board of Directors and have witnessed first hand what goes on and contributed in representing the independent retailers and use my business experience to help where possible.
I was previously invited onto a panel of industry representatives to discuss the creation of what we now know as the Aqua Trade show and subsequently been included on the judging panel for new products. I have also attended ‘Aquatic Round Table’ events to discuss various industry issues.
I am a keen diver and travelled around the world pursuing that hobby. I also play golf when I get the chance
James Allison established Aquapic Water Garden Solutions in 1999, specialising in water garden projects and providing aquatic consultancy. He has kept fish since his childhood and spent thirteen years as manager of a large aquatic retail outlet. With a Masters degree in aquatic biology, his interests have involved him in editing the Water Garden Journal, and writing and lecturing widely on water gardening and aquatic science.
“I have been a supporter of OATA since its launch in 1991, convinced of the benefits it can bring to both the industry and its customers in representing the trade and promoting high standards”
My name is Pete Carey. I’ve kept fish since I was 5 years old, starting with a goldfish from a fair, but this soon grown and by the time I was 13, I was propping coral and breeding clown fish! I’ve worked in the aquatics industry for almost 30 years, in retail outlets, public aquariums and zoos, starting working as a Saturday shop assistant, at the age of 15, in a local aquatic store in my home town of Bristol.
After completing my Degree in Freshwater and Marine Biology at Aberystwyth University, I then went on to complete an NVQ level 3 in Retail Operations and also a City and Guilds Zoological Animal Management qualification. I have worked in many aquatic retails, from small specialist marine only through to large chain national retailers, as well as zoos and public aquariums such Bristol Zoo Aquarium, The At Bristol Project, and the Blue Reef Aquarium Group.
After several years working as a consultant to large overseas public aquarium projects I returned to retail and joined Pets at Home, and for the last 8 years I have been the Aquatics Operations Manager for Pets at Home. I started out with Pets at Home working in stores for several years before being promoted into my present role. I have a huge passion for fish keeping, and promoting and preserving a responsible and sustainable hobby for new comers as well as existing hobbyists, and have been proud to serve on the board of OATA for the last few years.
Kevin Barton has been running ALF Ltd for over twenty years , which specialises in supplying Aquatic products nationally to the trade where many of the product ranges sold are exclusive.
“Our family run business Kidsgrove Tropical’s and Water Garden Centre opened in 1983 and has been a member of OATA Since its founding in 1991. I have passed both OATA Advanced diplomas and enjoyed the studying aspect which was required for these courses. Having these diplomas has also assisted my further knowledge which has been helpful to enable me to inform my customers with good quality advice and customer service. Since we began trading in 1983 I have worked in all aspects of this trade from retail sales, stock control, preparing the necessary book work which is required. As a small independent retailer established in this industry for over 30 years I believe I can assist and encourage other smaller retailers to the board to make them aware of OATA and what they have to offer and I am committed to help the association in any way to help safeguard our members and the industry.
Having spent the last year as a new blood member on the OATA board I am now ready to bring forward the views and opinions of the smaller independent bricks and mortar retail stores to the board so to help secure the future of the aquatic industry. Over this period of time I have being working with OATA towards a goal to help with a particular interest of mine which is the inconsistency of local authorities issuing pet licenses throughout the United Kingdom My hobbies include gardening and after all these years I am still a keen aquarist with a special interest in aquatic gardening and custom built aquarium installations.”
With his first job as a ‘fish importer’, Robert has been in the aquatic import and distribution business for twenty years. In 1999, Robert founded Independent Aquatic Imports Ltd with business partner Annie Biggerstaff and they are both as passionate about the business now as they were then. The company imports and distributes ornamental fish and aquatic plants across the UK. Married with three children, Robert enjoys relaxing with family and friends and the odd round of golf.
“I joined OATA to offer my services and experience to assist the trade not only in matters directly relevant to our day to day business but also the whole trade.”
Richard is Managing Director of Berry Ring Herp & Aquatic Supplies Ltd – a specialist importer and wholesaler of tropical, marine, coldwater fish, aquarium plants and reptiles based in Staffordshire and is home to GreenLine Ornamental Fish.
Richard also offers his customers the opportunity to visit some of its suppliers on trips to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Israel, Brazil and Czech Republic, reinforcing his commitment to personal attention and service.
Neil Hardy is a founder member of OATA, a member of the board and has served on a variety of sub-committees. He has 40 years experience of the aquatics industry having started out in his father’s company in his early teens. Neil runs Neil Hardy Aquatica Ltd with his brothers Peter and Jon and now has over 35 staff. The company has over 3000 aquariums and ponds and sells all types of tropical and coldwater fishes including a vast selection of the more specialist fishes which are imported and exported all over the world.
The company has 2 additional fish farms producing and growing its own Biosecure coldwater fishes. Neil has travelled the world extensively collecting and sourcing fishes and has considerable experience building and designing fish houses, setting up shipping stations etc. Other ventures include the distribution of professional aquatic products, including the popular New Life Spectrum range of high quality fish foods.
Simon Langdale is a partner and director of Maidenhead Aquatics and has personally kept fish for almost 30 years. With over 100 stores nationwide Maidenhead Aquatics is one of largest UK retailers of livestock, plants and all aquatic hardware necessary for fishkeeping both in and outdoors. The success of these stores has been built on livestock expertise, high quality aquatic products and outstanding customer service. Simon’s role in the business now takes him worldwide sourcing ethical and sustainable livestock and innovative products to benefit the welfare of livestock and enhance the fishkeeping experience.
Simon’s been a member of OATA for many years now and regards the role as vital to promote & protect the trade, to ensure standards of livestock welfare through the UK and identify and address issues within the aquatic industry, representing businesses on their behalf.
“I have been involved in the UK aquatics industry for 30 years, initially with Tetra and I held positions in marketing, sales, global brand management and latterly running the UK and South African businesses. In 2013 I launched my own business FishScience Ltd which provides a range of aquarium and pond foods. I have been an active director of OATA (and previously OFI UK Ltd) for 22 years holding various positions including chairman and vice Chairman.
I am currently the Chairman of OATA Impact Ltd, the company that runs the very successful AQUA exhibitions. I believe that my broad expertise in sales, marketing and general business management, together with my experience and knowledge of the UK aquatics industry enable me to provide valuable input into the board of OATA, something I would like to continue to do in the foreseeable future.”
Mark Evendon runs Devotedly Discus, which is based in Polegate, in East Sussex.
Andy is Managing Director of NT Labs – a manufacturing company located in the south east of England with a business built around fish health, distributing products globally. Established in 1982, the company is a respected brand name and recognised within the industry for Quality and Trust.
Owned by company directors Andrew Stagg and Ken Digby, their scientific and industry experience underpins the company’s success. NT Labs manufactures Fish Medicines, Water Treatments, Water Tests and Fish Foods, servicing the Koi, Pond, Tropical and Marine markets.
Products can be found predominantly in specialist independent retailers, garden centres and online distributed via a reliable group of national and overseas based wholesalers.
As Managing Director, Paul is responsible for the entire UK operations of TMC’s four sites, and ensuring that it upholds its position as Europe’s leading supplier of the highest quality, ethically-sourced marine livestock to the trade. range of quality, innovative products for the aquarium, planted aquarium and pond.
I have previously been involved in helping many NGO’s ranging from the National Lobster hatchery in Padstow, to Coral Awareness Projects. Having studied engineering specialising in aquarium filtration gaining a 1st class degree. With a strong understanding of marketing, I am well aware of brand and modern communication technologies.
Through my career, I have always been in the aquatic market segment and close to the retail trade. Using my knowledge and entrepreneurial flair to start biOrb aquarium in 1999. A strong believer in animal welfare I have more recently started Seneye who provide unique internet monitoring systems for aquatic welfare. My aim has always been to try and increase the numbers of fish keepers in the UK.
I have kept fish since a small child and currently have a Koi pond along with Marine and tropical aquariums. I am also a keen surfer, diver, and motorcyclist combining these where possible with his passion for travel.
Head of Retail Sales
Ben started his career in aquatics after a vested passion for aquatics lead him to a position in the specialist retail sector. After several years working in the retail side of the industry, Ben moved into a B2B sales position, first working for a distributor of specialist marine and aquarium products then moving on to work for one of the UK’s major specialist aquatic wholesalers. In 2007 Ben joined Tetra, where is held several different roles, before moving on in 2015 to join the leading pet company Pets Choice to head up the sales division.
Head of retail sales, Ben is responsible for growing the business within the pet trade both in the UK and internationally, with a sales team reporting into him. Ben is also instrumental in building relationships within the Grocery sector and expanding the breadth of the Pets Choice business.
“Having spent most of my working life in this industry, my love for it remains as strong today as it ever was. I recognise the vital role OATA has played, and has to continue to play in protecting our industry.
The challenges for us all are greater than they ever were. OATA needs all of our support to help protect and just as importantly develop our market to the benefit of everyone that works within it and fish keepers alike.”