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.

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 CBE DL, Chairman & CEO E H Booth & Co Ltd

Edwin is the Chairman of E H Booth & Co Ltd, the proprietors of Booths Food Stores in the North of England, and represents the fifth generation of the family that has operated Booths since 1847. He entered the business immediately after school and quickly discovered an enthusiasm for retailing, and in particular the procurement of wine for which Booths has gained national recognition. Edwin developed a successful marketing function before becoming Executive Chairman in 1997. He has promoted the business’s reputation for excellent service and goods, working to create an organisation with strong sustainability credentials and a focus on local sourcing. 

Edwin was named as the Lancastrian of the Year in the Be Inspired Business Awards 2009, and in 2010 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 programs. He chaired the BITC Advisory Board for the North West from 2007 to 2014 and was instrumental in developing a program to engage schools with business.  He is Chairman of the Harris Charity (Preston) which was co-founded by his forebear Edwin Henry Booth and is a founding trustee of The Prince’s Countryside Fund. In June 2011 he was appointed Chair of the Lancashire LEP, a post he held for over 7 years. Edwin was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year 2019 Honours list for services to business and charity.

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 and Isles of Scilly LEP

Mark has been the Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP from 2016. 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. Mark has also previously supported the Rodda family running their Creamery in Cornwall. 

Mark joined Samworth Brothers in 1997 and has managed a number of the company's sandwich and pastry businesses. In 1999, Mark took over as MD 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.

Mark is also a NED of the Cornwall NHS Foundation Trust.

David Fursdon, Chairman, Beeswax Dyson Farming

David was educated at St John’s College, Oxford and at the RAU Cirencester, where he is now an honorary Fellow. Previously he worked in the MOD. He subsequently qualified as a rural Chartered Surveyor. He was President of the CLA between (2005-2007), a Commissioner of the Crown Estate (2008-2017) and of English Heritage (2009-2013). He served on the Board of the SWRDA and chaired the South-West Board for London 2012. He then chaired the Government’s ‘Future of Farming’ review (2013) and DEFRA’s SW Rural and Farming Network (still active). He was a member of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission in 2007 and Rural Housing Policy Group in 2015. He became Chairman of Beeswax Dyson Farming in 2014 and serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Trust.

In 2017 he chaired the SW Rural Productivity Commission and became an RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commissioner. He has run his own small Estate in Devon since 1979 and a consultancy business. He became Lord-Lieutenant of Devon in 2015. He has been chairman of Cadbury parish since 1982 and his interests include sport, having played first class cricket and club rugby.

Lord Jamie Lindsay, Chairman, UKAS

Jamie Lindsay is currently Chairman of UKAS (the UK’s National Accreditation Body) and BPI Pension Trustees Ltd., and a Non-Executive Director of Brockwell Energy Ltd.

Jamie’s career has included senior Public, Private and NGO sector appointments.  He is a former Government Minister at the Scottish Office with responsibilities that included agriculture, forestry, the environment and rural affairs. He has also served as a Non-Exec Director at BPI plc, Scottish Resources Group (SRG) Ltd and UA Group plc, and as Chairman of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and SAC, Elmwood College, Scottish Quality Salmon and Assured British Meat. Jamie is a former President of the National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Janet McCollum 

Janet currently serves as Non-Executive Director with several leading businesses within the agri-food industry - Glanbia Ireland, W & R Barnett, Mash Direct and Foyle Food Group.

From 1993 Janet enjoyed 25 years with Moy Park, appointed to the Executive Board as Finance Director in 2002 and Chief Executive from 2014 to 2018, responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of Moy Park's business across Europe and playing a key role in the comprehensive reorganization and restructuring of the business. She completed the INSEAD Advanced Management Programme in July 2012 and has served as a board member of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. In 2016 Janet was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Economics from Queen’s University Belfast for services to business and commerce and was recognised as IoD 2017 UK Large Company Director of the Year. More recently she was honoured to receive CBE for services to economic development in Northern Ireland.         

Janet graduated from the University of Aston in Birmingham with a degree in Business Administration & French; she then went on to become a Fellow member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA). With over 25 years experience within the food industry, Janet commenced her career at Coca-Cola & Schweppes Beverages.

Janet is married to Ross with a family of three and enjoys travel and sport, including interest in golf, skiing and cricket.

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.

Meurig Raymond MBE, CBE, FRAgS

Raymond is a farmer and an advocate of British farming. He was President of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales (NFU) until 2018. He also served as Deputy President for eight years and Vice President until 2004.  He has extensive experience of working with farmers, policy makers and key stakeholders to develop effective solutions to farming and countryside issues.

In 1989 Meurig was elected as one of the youngest NFU County Chairmen. He served as Pembrokeshire’s NFU Council Delegate for 12 years. He was also appointed Governor of the Pembrokeshire College, Chairman of the South West Wales Flood Defence Committee, Member of the Food Farm Britain Council, Board member of the Home Grown Cereals Authority, Trustee of The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and a Council Member of Oxford Farming Conference.

Meurig was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal Agricultural University in 2018 and was presented with an Honorary Doctorate from Harper Adams University in 2014. He was awarded an MBE and CBE for outstanding services to the farming sector in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2014 and 2019 respectively.

 Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agrifoods for HSBC Bank plc

Allan, a dairy farmer’s son, was born and raised in the North East of England and has been involved with farming and the food industry throughout his career.

A graduate in Agriculture from Aberystwyth University in 1985, he spent 3 years in the MMB (Milk Marketing Board) as a Farm Management Consultant before joining Midland Bank in 1988 as a Regional Agriculture Manager. Allan has held a number of roles around the UK in HSBC, including a 7 year period as Area Director and Regional Commercial Director, prior to taking up the role of Head of Agriculture in early 2010.  In 2015 he was appointed Head of Agrifoods, with specific reference to lead HSBC's sector specialism for the whole food chain in the UK and increasingly beyond.

Allan is a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Farmers and was awarded an Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Societies in 2016.

He has been appointed as a Trustee of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, where he also chairs the industry steering group for The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, launched in July 2016.  He is involved in a number of other initiatives, more latterly the Food & Drink Sector Council’s Export Group.

 Allan is married to Michelle, they have two grown up children, and lives near York.


 Our Impact

The Prince's Countryside Fund Impact Report 2018-19