Meet the Staff!

Shell Mckee

Shell worked at Gauntlet as a volunteer while studying for her degree. She joined the team as a full-time member of staff in May 2011 after graduating with a BSc in Animal Management.

Graham Bessant

Owner and Founder


Graham is a man with a driving passion for birds of prey that has seen him steer Gauntlet from a fledgling centre with 13 birds to the largest collection in the North of England.

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Will Long

Will joined the team in 2014 as a volunteer after studying for a Diploma in Animal Management.

Daisy Bessant

Daisy joined us in 2019 as an Apprentice studying a chartered business degree. After growing up with the birds, Daisy has a passion, that she wanted to continue.



Shannen-leigh Mcaleer

Shannen joined Gauntlet for 5 weeks work experience whilst studying for her BSc Animal Behaviour degree at the University of Chester. After her placement she took a summer role whilst she conducted her dissertation research at Gauntlet "Footedness and laterality in captive reared bird of prey species". Shannen has now completed her studies and is a full time member of staff.

Jake bessant

Jake is Gauntlets' newest apprentice working towards his Level 3 apprenticeship in animal care through Reaseheath College.  Jake has been around birds all his life and wants to continue with that passion. 

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Laura Jones

Laura joined us as a volunteer after completing her studies at Liverpool John Moores University where she achieved her BSc in Zoology. She is now a full time member of staff running experiences and demonstrations daily.