The Prince’s Countryside Fund announces new Executive Director

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is delighted to announce the appointment of Keith Halstead as its new Executive Director.

Keith will join the Fund at the start of June 2020, and will take over from Claire Saunders, who is stepping down after five years at the helm of the charity following a move to Northern Ireland.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund was established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010 and aims to enhance the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life. We believe that the British countryside is our most valuable natural asset and its contribution to our everyday life cannot be underestimated. 

Keith has over twenty-five years’ experience gained in a number of senior roles across the two National Trusts in England & Scotland, including strategic responsibility for the operational, business and land management of rural estates, historic houses, gardens, coast and countryside and their related conservation, commercial and environmental performance. As a Regional Director, Keith led major investment projects in developing better experiences for visitors, secured significant acquisitions for both charities and improved the financial sustainability of properties.

Keith has also been Chief Executive of the Community Transport Association - a national charity supporting over 1,500 voluntary and community organisations delivering crucial transport services to disadvantaged communities and individuals across the UK.  In this role, Keith strengthened the CTA’s visibility and impact and was successful in influencing government policy and legislation to ensure community transport could play an even greater role in local transport provision, particularly in rural areas.

In addition, Keith has been a trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust, a member of DEFRA’s Civil Society Advisory Board and of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Committee for South-East England. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts.

Keith said: “Throughout my career, I have always been connected with the countryside and with those who live and work in rural communities. It is, therefore, a real privilege to be appointed to lead The Prince’s Countryside Fund, whose practical work in looking after the people who look after the countryside, during a time of such unprecedented change and uncertainty, is now more important than ever.”

Lord Curry of Kirkharle, Chair of Trustees said: “We are immensely grateful to Claire Saunders for her dedication and incredible hard work over the last five years.  Her leadership has led to The Prince’s Countryside Fund becoming firmly established as an outward facing organisation with huge influence, having a passion for rural communities and the sustainability of farming families at the heart of all the activities we undertake. Thanks to Claire’s boundless energy the Fund has carved out a unique role and her legacy includes the establishment of The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme which is providing essential support to an increasing number of farming family businesses at this challenging time, and important research including Recharging Rural and the Village Survival Guide. 

“Succeeding Claire as Executive Director, I am delighted to welcome Keith Halstead who brings both enormous strategic experience from his work with the National Trusts and a sound understanding of grassroots rural communities from his leadership of the Community Transport Association. Keith’s broad experience will ensure that the Fund will continue to have a vital role in rural life and in helping to prepare family farms for transition as we leave the EU.”

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