It was our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales’s long-held concerns for the future of Britain’s rural areas that led to the idea of raising funds to help them become more sustainable. He challenged the business leaders that comprise his Rural Action Programme at Business in the Community to see what they could do about it. The idea of The Prince’s Countryside Fund grew from this group and it was established as a charity in its own right in 2010.
The Prince's Countryside Fund Trustee Board
Lord Curry of Kirkharle CBE and Chairman of The Prince's Countryside Fund
Lord Curry brings a wealth of knowledge about agricultural issues to the Trustee Board. He has been a board member of the NFU Mutual Insurance Company since 1997 and was Chairman from 2003 until the end of 2011. In 2009 he became Chair of the Leckford Estate Management Committee – the Waitrose Farm. He chaired the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food reporting to Government in January 2002 and was responsible for overseeing the Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food until March 2009. Lord Curry was awarded a CBE for his services to Agriculture in the 1997 New Year’s Honours list, a Knighthood in the Birthday Honours in 2001 and ennobled in 2011.
Rob Collins, Managing Director, Waitrose and Vice Chairman, The Prince's Countryside Fund
Managing Director of Waitrose, the supermarket division of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership. Rob joined the Partnership as a graduate trainee in 1993. He started in the John Lewis Oxford Street store and progressed to a number of roles, including Managing Director of Aberdeen and Cribbs Causeway (Bristol) stores. Rob was John Lewis Director of Selling Support from 2005 until 2007 when he moved to Waitrose as Director, e-Commerce. After three years he was promoted to the Waitrose Management Board as Personnel Director in 2010. Rob was Retail Director in 2012 and became Managing Director in April 2016.
Mark Allen, Chief Executive, Dairy Crest
Mark has been with Dairy Crest for over 24 years. During this time he has progressed from business unit Managing Director to Chief Executive. Formally with Shell UK, he joined Dairy Crest in August 1991. He is a Non-Executive Director of Howden Joinery Group Plc, sits on the Dairy UK Board and is a Director for The GLF Schools Board.
Sara Bennison, Chief Marketing Officer, Nationwide
Sara recently joined Nationwide as Chief Marketing Officer and also sits on the Executive Committee. Prior to Nationwide Sara joined Barclays from BT in 2007 where she was head of marketing and communications. Prior to that she’d spent her time in agencies, spanning senior roles across the likes of JWT and Grey, where she was managing partner. Sara lives and works in London and has four children. She also has a ‘second life’ in a rural community in Wales where she and her husband have spent the last 10 years bringing back to life a farmhouse that had languished uninhabited for 30 years.
Edwin Booth DL, Executive Chairman, EH Booth & Co
Edwin is the Chairman of E H Booth & Co Ltd who are proprietors of Booths in the North of England. Edwin represents the fifth generation of the family that has operated Booths since 1847. He entered the business immediately after school and quickly discovered a hunger for retailing. The purchase of wine became his speciality for many years, enabling Booths to gain national recognition for this important area of the business. Subsequently he developed a successful marketing function prior to becoming Executive Chairman in 1997. Edwin was an HRH The Prince of Wales Business Ambassador for the North West in 2005 and a finalist for the Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year (North).
He has also been awarded the Institute of Directors Director of the Year for Lancashire and the North West and been recognised for his business pursuits by the North West Society of Chartered Accounts and as the Lancastrian of the Year in the Be Inspired Business Awards 2009. In 2010 Edwin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Lancaster University for his services to the region and his industry. Edwin has worked with the Lancashire Universities in the areas of leadership and business change programmes and is presently chairing the Business in the Community (BITC) Advisory Board for the North West. In addition, Edwin is also Chairman (Non-Executive) at Symingtons in Leeds, Chairman of Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership, Vice Chairman of the Harris Charity and Patron of Myerscough College.
Elizabeth Buchanan CVO, Consultant and Farmer
Elizabeth was, until December 2009, the Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. In addition to managing Their Royal Highnesses’ public life, she was also responsible for His Royal Highness’s work on the environment, agricultural and his relations with the business community. She worked for Their Royal Highnesses for over ten years. Prior to that, Elizabeth worked at Bell Pottinger and as a special adviser to two Secretaries of State for Transport. Elizabeth is now a consultant to Waitrose, Chime Communications Group, Dairy Crest and Nyetimber. The remainder of her time is spent managing the family’s organic farm in East Sussex.
Mark Duddridge, Chair, Cornwall Isles of Scillies LEP
Mark is a Director of Rodda’s and Chairman of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP. Between 1998 and 2015 Mark was a Director of Samworth Brothers and Managing Director of a number of its operating companies, most notably Ginsters. Mark has worked in the chilled food and biscuit markets since leaving university in 1984. He joined Samworth Brothers in 1997 and has managed a number of the company's sandwich and pastry businesses. In 1999, Mark took over as Managing Director at Ginsters at a time when the business was facing a very tough trading period. Over the years that followed, he built a very strong and committed team at the company and the Ginsters’ brand sales have grown from £90 million to over £200 million during the past ten years. Ginsters is now a Brand leader across the UK and one of the top 10 chilled brands in the country. Mark hopes that Ginsters success has helped show other local companies that being located in a rural area can be a competitive advantage, rather than a weakness.
Stephen Dunmore OBE
Stephen Dunmore is currently Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator. He was previously Chief Executive of the New Opportunities Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. Since leaving the Big Lottery Fund in 2008, he has been Interim Chief Executive of the Responsible Gambling Fund, The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, the Lumos Foundation, the National Consumer Council and the Family and Childcare Trust; Chair of Capacitybuilders, National Family Mediation and the BBC’s Awards Advisory Committee; and a member of the Office of the Third Sector’s Advisory Body.
Sue Huggins OBE
Sue was formerly the General Manager Network, Services & Transformation at the Post Office where her primary focus was the maintenance of the nationwide network of post offices and the delivery of the modernisation programme. Sue originally trained as a nurse at the Westminster Hospital in London and, after a brief spell working abroad, joined the Post Office in 1980. Sue was appointed Director – Sales & Marketing, Network Bank, and then Executive Director – Strategy, Post Office Ltd. With a keen interest in rural issues, Sue jumped at the chance to manage the 8,100 strong network of rural post offices when the company reorganised in 2001. Sue received the OBE in the New Year’s honours list 2010 for her services to the Post Office and communities across the UK.
More recently, Sue has directed the Network Change Programme and undertaken a strategic review of the network that saw Post Office Ltd developing new post office service delivery models aimed at ensuring a vibrant future for our nationwide network of post offices. Sue was a long serving member of Business in the Community’s Rural Action Leadership Team, the Pub is the Hub Steering Group and is a Trustee of The Rowland Hill Fund and has two children.
As well as a strong understanding of rural issues from her time on The Prince’s Rural Action Leadership Team, Lizzie also brings a strong media and communications background to the Trustee Board. Lizzie began her career at The National Magazine Company in 1982 at Good Housekeeping magazine. Since then Lizzie has been Publishing Director of Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan Groups, and Executive Group Publishing Director, Affluent Group. In 1993 Lizzie was appointed to the Board of NatMag. In 2002 Lizzie was appointed Executive Group Publishing Director, Good Housekeeping and Country Living Group, in 2007 appointed Executive Group Publishing Director of Women’s Interest Group magazines.
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries, Marks & Spencer plc
Steve became Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing at M&S in April 2012, and has overall responsibility for agricultural and fisheries supply chain sourcing and supply chain sustainability across the M&S Food business. He initially joined M&S in September 2008 as Agriculture Manager responsible for ruminant livestock supply chains and has worked extensively with the M&S supply base around the world on the M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ sustainable agricultural production programme. Prior to joining M&S, Steve was Chief Executive of the Texel Sheep Society and the Business Director of BASCO Data Limited, a collaboration between the UK’s three largest beef & sheep breed societies that managed performance and breed society data. Before that he worked as Lamb Marketing Manager at the ANM Group based at Thainstone in Aberdeenshire. Steve’s family background has its roots firmly in the Scottish fishing industry, where his brother continues the tradition from the Scottish port of Gairloch on the North West coast. He lives with his wife and two children in rural Oxfordshire, where his wife is a partner in the family livestock farm.
Paul Murphy, CEO, Jordans & Ryvita
For the last four years Paul Murphy has been the CEO of the Jordans Ryvita Company. Before that he was responsible for the Twinings business in the UK, North America and Australia. Before his time in Associated British Foods he worked for Bacardi Ltd and Reckitt Benckiser. He began his career in the marketing function. He has lived and worked in both France and the US, and has had both local and international roles. For the past six years, Paul has been a Non-Executive Director on the board of St Georges NHS Trust, in South West London. Paul is married and has four children.
Mark Pendlington DL, Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Anglian Water Group
Mark joined Anglian Water Group from BAA Stansted, where he was a Board member with responsibility for business development, communications, marketing and public affairs. Previously, Mark was Chief Executive of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), a national membership organisation dedicated to the economic health and social well-being of the diverse rural economy. He was a leading member of the task force of Government and other agencies that worked to help farmers and rural communities recover from the Foot and Mouth outbreak. This included projects on social inclusion, business diversification and economic regeneration. His background also includes senior appointments in the environment, transport and energy sectors.
Mat Roberts, Director of Sustainability Strategy, Interserve PLC and Landmarc Support Services Ltd
Mat Roberts is Director of Sustainability Strategy at Interserve PLC and Landmarc Support Services Ltd. Mat joined Interserve in 2014 and before that Landmarc in 2008 to look after one of the UKs largest land holdings, the MoD National Training Estate, over 220,000 Ha from the Orkney Isles to Cornwall. Prior to Landmarc. Mat was the Superintendent of Epping Forest, a manager in Scotland’s First National Park in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and Chief Ranger on The Gower AONB. Mat is an alumnus of the Cambridge University Programme for Sustainability Leadership. A Fellow of the RSA, Director of Cynnal Cymru (Sustain Wales) and Freeman of the City of London. Mat lives in Wiltshire and when not being husband and father, he capsizes Hobie Cats and falls off mountain bikes.
Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agriculture for HSBC Bank plc
Allan Wilkinson is the Head of Agriculture for HSBC Bank plc, the dedicated farming division of HSBC Bank plc and responsible for the Bank’s farming customers in the UK. He took up the role in 2010 and is only the sixth Head of Agriculture in the 45 years the Team has been in existence. Allan, a dairy farmer’s son, was born and raised in the North East and has been involved with farming throughout his career. Having obtained a degree in Agriculture from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth; he worked as a farm management consultant in Leicestershire for three years before joining HSBC Bank in 1988 as an Agriculture Banking Manager in Shropshire and Herefordshire. He was appointed Senior Agriculture Banking Manager for Cumbria and the North East in 1994 and Divisional Agriculture Manager for Northern Counties, Northern Ireland & Scotland in 1998. From 2003, he has held a number of senior leadership posts in HSBC's retail and commercial network in Northern England, before taking on his current position.