Meet the Speakers

Additional speakers to be added in due course

Harry Gration

Event Host
For as long as I can remember, this great paper, the Yorkshire Post has been the champion of rural matters in Yorkshire. That role has never been more important than today. The turbulent events we’ve all endured make the YP’s lead even more significant .This conference will bring together some of the most inspiring people and companies to stimulate a positive idea of what our future can be. Personally, as a father and professional, I want to hear what that is and draw on it myself. Let’s get going…

Kate Atkinson

Vice Chair and our Planning Lead - CPRE
Katie Atkinson used to work for the national charity of CPRE based in the Yorkshire & Humber region and became a Trustee of North Yorkshire CPRE in 2018 as their Planning Lead. Having worked at senior levels in both the public and private arenas as well as for a statutory consultee, Katie has a broad wealth of planning knowledge which proved invaluable in the CPRE campaign against onshore ‘fracking’. With over 17 years of experience in the planning sector, Katie became an Independent Consultant in 2013 having established KVA Planning Consultancy. Based in East Yorkshire, Katie works throughout the North of England in a wide range of disciplines within the planning and development industry, offering specialist advice to the development industry, public sector, private individuals and community groups in rural, coastal and marine planning issues.
Outside of work, Katie has two young boys and is also partial to Latin and ballroom dancing.

Ben Barnett

Charitable Activities Manager, Yorkshire Agricultural Society
A charity that supports and champions food, farming and the countryside year-round. Ben is responsible for overseeing and promoting the educational work of the charity and its farming networks. He joined the Society in 2019 following a career in journalism and public relations.

Libby Bateman

CLA North Rural Advisor
Libby is a rural advisor with the Country Land and Business Association and has previously led a fibre to the home rural broadband project in a remote hillside community in Cumbria. Libby advises on rural broadband delivery using various technology solutions, developing both short and long-term connectivity solutions.

Minette Batters

NFU President
Runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire. The business includes a 100 cow continental cross suckler herd, and a small herd of pedigree Herefords and a wedding venue business. Minette has been involved in NFU for a number of years at all levels locally, regionally and nationally and has been NFU President since 2018.

Adam Bedford

North East Regional Director, NFU Mutual
Adam Bedford has been the Regional Director for NFU in the North East – representing 6000 farm
businesses across Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland since 2016. Originally from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire from a non -farming family, Adam studied studied Sustainable Land Management at Askham Bryan College and an MSc in Rural Development a t Newcastle University.

Adam has worked for the NFU for 14 years in different regions of England and was previously Director of the NFU European office in Brussels, the British Agriculture Bureau.

Dr Jason Beedell

Rural Research Director Strutt & Parker
Jason leads Strutt & Parker’s work on natural capital accounting and sits on Defra’s external working group on agri-environment schemes.
He is a director in Strutt & Parker’s research department and supports the firm’s rural team with information and analysis on farming, land management, planning, environment, energy, forestry and rural capital markets.
Before joining Strutt & Parker in 2016 he set up and led the research team at Smiths Gore for over 10 years.
He is a Chartered Surveyor and nationally recognised commentator on rural issues, particularly rural property markets and CAP reform. He has lead multi-disciplinary research teams on a wide range of subjects, including the rural economy, rural housing, property markets and environmental policies.

Susan Briggs

Director of The Tourism Network
Susan Briggs has 30 years’ experience in tourism marketing, managing projects for destinations, accommodation and visitor attractions. She specialises in rural tourism, farm diversification, and encouraging visitors to appreciate and care for the countryside. Susan has a particular interest in local distinctiveness and sustainable tourism. Her focus is on practical advice for immediate implementation.

Lisa Cardy

Regional Support Officer for the Northern Region, The Farming Community Network-FCN
I am the newly appointed Support Officer for the Northern Region covering Yorkshire, Northumbria. Cumbria and Lancashire

Previously I was the County Coordinator for Yorkshire from 2019, following on from being the publicity and show organiser for the County.

I trained as a Farm Secretary at Bishop Burton College and have a background in rural education.

Sally Conner

Regional Manager - North East, RABI
Sally Conner is the Regional Manager in the North East for the RABI. She is a farmer’s daughter and husband so understands the complexities of living in a farming family. Having coped with many difficult times during her farming life, Sally has a good understanding of the impact of changes within the farming industry. Sally has worked for the RABI for fourteen years and in that time has met a huge amount of amazing people who support our farming charity as well as those courageous people who just need a little bit of extra help.

Robert Copley

Director of Farmer Copleys
Robert Copley is the owner of Pontefract based Farmer Copleys alongside his wife, Heather. With the desire for amazing food, fantastic local produce and a warm welcome, Farmer Copleys has also showcased through its Farm Shop and Moo Café, how Yorkshire can compete with the very best the culinary world has to offer.

Robert Craig

Dairy Farmer and Cooperative Director
Robert is married to Jackie and they have four children between 22-17yrs. The couple currently farm 750 hectares across three sites in Cumbria and Northumberland milking 1500 cows.
Robert held the office of NFU County Chairman in 2010 & 2011.
In 2012 Robert was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship to study food chain sustainability, traveling to NZ, Brazil, Chile, Peru, California, India and China. Robert is actively involved in a range of farming industry policy work with "The Sustainable Food Trust" based in Bristol. In 2017 Robert joined the board of the coop "First Milk" as a non-executive director and is currently in year three as vice chairman. Robert also represents First Milk at Dairy UK, the dairy industry trade association where he is currently Farmer Forum Chairman.
Robert is also a trustee and vice Chairman of the RABDF - Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.

Clair Douglas

Director, Head of Agricultural Law, Crombie Wilkinson
Clair is a Director and Head of the Agricultural Law Team at Crombie Wilkinson. and works in the Commercial Property and Agricultural Law team.

With over 17 years experience Clair deals with a variety of commercial property work and specialises in rural, agricultural and estate work.

Clair’s background is rooted in all aspects of rural property including buying and selling farms and large rural properties, estate reorganisation and diversification projects spanning energy scheme projects and land redevelopment. Clair also deals with our agricultural tenancy work.

Lucinda Douglas

CLA Director North
Lucinda grew up on her family farm near Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales and started her career as a rural surveyor practicing for 5 years.

Prior to her appointment at the CLA in July 2021, Lucinda worked for the NFU in the North East as a County Adviser before moving to the NFU Mutual in Yorkshire five years ago as an Agent and Group Secretary where she has run a large team managing nearly 4,000 clients.

Lucinda studied at Harper Adams University a BSc (Hons) in Rural Enterprise and Land Management and is a qualified RICS Chartered Surveyor, Agricultural Valuer and Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).

Sophie Dwerryhouse

National Access Adviser.CLA
Sophie provides advice to CLA members and leads the Organisation’s policy work relating to public access including public rights of way, open access, permissive access, inland water and coastal access.

Sophie sits on a number of Government stakeholder working groups representing landowner and farming interests in both England and Wales.

Rachel Hallos

and her family run a pedigree beef and sheep enterprise at their Yorkshire Water tenanted upland farm, Beeston Hall, in West Yorkshire. Recent changes include a holiday let, additional building works to provide a meeting venue and the branding of their own red meat. Rachel is the chair of NFU North East board of farmer representatives.

Matthew Hemmings

UK Fibre Network Delivery Director for Openreach and member of the Openreach North of England Board
Matt heads up business fibre network delivery across the UK and a team of around 10,000 desk based employees and field engineers. Previously, he was Director of Full Fibre build for Openreach and also led a number of build programmes focused on bringing faster, better broadband to rural communities across the North and Scotland.

He has many years’ experience of building networks in the UK’s most rural areas and a deep understanding of the difference these connections make to people living and working in our rural communities.

Dave Lynch

Senior Relationship Manager. NatWest Agriculture and Landed Estates
Dave Lynch, Senior Relationship Manager. NatWest Agriculture and Landed Estates

Experienced Relationship Manager responsible for a portfolio of Agriculture and Landed Estate Customers.

Fiona Macdonald

Head of Agriculture at Askham Bryan College
The Agriculture curriculum offer at Askham Bryan College currently educates over 300 students studying agriculture (Level 2 to Level 6) and has recently expanded its Agri-tech operations in Precision Livestock Farming with a new high welfare precision beef unit, due to complete late Autumn 2021.

Bill Meredith

Bill has spent much of his career at Bishop Burton College and became Chief Executive and Principal in 2018. Having come from a farming family in Lincolnshire, Bill studied Agriculture and Crop Protection at Harper Adams, before becoming a lecturer.

Bill has a keen interest in both sustainable farming systems and skills development, working with employers to meet the needs of the regional and national economy.

Charles Mills

Show Director Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Great Yorkshire Show Director Charles Mills is a farmer from York who was appointed in 2015. He farms at Woolas Grange, Appleton Roebuck which is a mixed arable rotation and Charles has recently launched a new business as a rural wedding venue.
Charles has held a number of roles within the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, including Joint Chief Cattle Steward and as a member of the Society’s Council, its governing body, since 2002.

Andy Morton

FarmSight Specialist – Ripon Farm Services
As a specialist within the newly formed “FarmSight” team at Ripon Farm Services, Andy supports the company’s customers across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in all aspects of precision farming.

Originally from Warwickshire, and with over 20 years’ experience in arable crop production, Andy studied Agriculture with Land and Farm Management at Harper Adams and is also BASIS and FACTS qualified.

Martin Overfield

Partner Smailes Goldie Group
With over 30 years’ experience as a general practitioner and with an agricultural specialism, Martin offers comprehensive business planning, wealth protection and tax mitigation advice to families, their businesses, and private clients. Currently Martin is Chairman of the North East UK200 Agricultural Group.


Rural Chartered Surveyor, CLA
Alison is a rural Chartered Surveyor and Agricultural Valuer and works in the CLA’s Regional Advice team.

Alison joined the CLA in January 2020 and advises CLA members on a range of topics, specialising in planning and diversification.

With over 10 years’ experience in the rural sector, Alison’s background is in advising private, corporate and institutional landowners on a range of matters affecting their agricultural, residential, and commercial property portfolios throughout East Anglia.

Alison studied Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University College.

Nurse Anne Reed

Anne does a fantastic job on behalf of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society in carrying out farmer health checks at auction marts and events. YAS has been offering free farmer health checks for over 10 years, to connect with farmers in their working environment. The checks include a basic MOT with a blood pressure and cholesterol test as well as the chance to discuss any other health worries including smoking, diet, alcohol/drugs or mental health.

Brian Richardson

Head of Agriculture Virgin Money
Yorkshire born and bred, Brian Richardson, has spent his career in agri-business, starting as a management trainee at a feed milling and meat processing company in Harrogate. He has held senior positions with JSR Farms Ltd in East Yorkshire, Woldmarsh Producer Ltd, CWG Ltd and H&H Group. He joined Virgin Money (formerly Yorkshire Bank) as Head of Agriculture in 2018, to lead a specialist team in providing financial insight and support to primary producers and farming businesses.

Sharon Richardson

Director and Head of the Private Client team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors
She is a Solicitors for the Elderly accredited member.
Sharon has over 20 years of providing expert advice including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney,
Probate, Court of Protection, Trusts, gifts, personal tax planning, estate planning and administration,
guidance on selling your home, funding long term care as well as contracts for care homes.

Stuart Roberts

NFU Deputy President
Stuart farms 120 hectares in Hertfordshire in partnership with his wife. A third generation arable and livestock farmer at Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden, Stuart has also worked for Defra and the Food Standards Agency and held senior management roles within the meat supply chain.
The farm incorporates around 100 hectares of combinable crops supplying grain to more than 50 artisan mills and bakers throughout the UK. The remaining land is predominately permanent pasture and a small amount of woodland. The farm includes a small pedigree Hereford herd and a flock of Lleyn Sheep. The business also includes a flock of laying hens.
Stuart was elected to the post of NFU Deputy President in February 2020 after serving two years as Vice President. He previously chaired the NFU Hertfordshire branch and served on both the East Anglian livestock and combinable crops board. Stuart has also previously served on the boards of Red Tractor and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. 
Stuart has a daughter and three sons and enjoys cycling and running (slowly).

Alastair Taylor

Deputy Chief Executive at NYnet
Alastair is the Deputy Chief Executive at NYnet and the Programme Director for Superfast North Yorkshire (SFNY). As well as SFNY, Alastair runs the Local Full Fibre Network programme installing 180km of new fibre and the Digital Infrastructure programme installing Public Wi-Fi in 17 towns and a North Yorkshire wide LoRaWAN Network.

Richard Taylor

Senior Associate Director, Farming- Strutt & Parker
Responsible for the Farming Department in Yorkshire, Richard has over 25 years experience of providing farm management and consultancy advice in the North of England. He is involved in providing detailed management support, financial budgeting and control, and strategic guidance on all aspects of agriculture including in-hand farming, contract farming and advice to working farmers.

Charlotte Wells Thompson

Berts Barrow
Until April this year Charlotte Wells Thompson ran the award winning Berts Barrow farm shop as part of the long running family farm. In April 2021 the shop closed and they diversified the business again to a weddings and events space.

Rob Yardley

Askham Bryan College
Velcourt Farm Manager, managing 1300 hectares of arable cropping in North Yorkshire. Rob is actively involved in the Velcourt Farm Management team and Agri-tech projects at Askham Bryan College, nr York.
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