Middle Marches AGM
Thank you for attending
Thank you very much for attending our first AGM. In case you missed it, you can see the key documents and a full recording of the evening below.
- Our 2020 Annual Review can be found here (opens in a new tab).
- Our Accounts for the Year Ending 31st March 2020 are available here (opens in a new tab).
We are delighted to have elected an official Board. Congratulations to the successful applicants! Meet the Board.
The Middle Marches Community Land Trust Board
I am a Rural Surveyor with over 30 years experience, mainly working with the conservation charities the RSPB and the National Trust. In a self-employed capacity I have also worked for utility companies such as Western Power, Scottish Power and Severn Trent Water Ltd doing land referencing, agreeing easements and wayleaves, overhead line planning. I have also been employed by private landowners and farmers in Shropshire on drafting and submitting Stewardship schemes.
I am currently employed by the RSPB as Senior Rural Surveyor in North Wales and am a professional contractor to the National Trust in the Midlands (although this is on hold due to Covid). With the RSPB I am based at Vyrnwy where we have an over 4,000ha upland in-hand farm and I also cover the various reserves and interests stretching up to South Stack on Anglesey.
I have already been involved with the MMCLT by providing advice, drafting heads of terms for agreements, registering with the RPA so that entitlements and grants may be claimed and enrolling with the Land App as a tool for producing plans, record keeping and land management.
I’m currently the Parish Clerk in Edgton village and on the board of Restoring Shropshire’s Verges (RSVP) Board and interested to combine this with MMCLT board activities in order to extend the rewilding of South Shropshire using my experience of being a RSVP pilot site in Edgton Village.
My background is in Health/disability work and running national networks and event organisation.
In particular, I’d like to contribute to:
- Supporting Shropshire Council to move to a more conservative and restorative management of Verges, Ditches and Hedges.
- Assisting with the capture all the initiatives on Climate Action being developed all over Shropshire.
- Helping MMCLT harness all the latent expertise and volunteer time available across South Shropshire.
- Help to explore the use of bio-digesters across South Shropshire.
- Initiating a South Shropshire schools programme on rewilding, restoration and meadow making.
- Help to identify potential partner organisations, businesses and donors.
- Help with public speaking events and media briefings.
Since coming here to live 20 years ago, I have been involved in local landscape and environmental projects with the AONB and others, I’m also Chair of Trustees of Caring for Gods Acre. A former partnership development consultant and facilitator, I’ve worked for local and national organisations in the UK, EU, East Africa and Australia.
Throughout my working life I have facilitated groups and communities to design and deliver changes that improve how they live and work. My activities ranged from working with victims of crime in Inner London to subsistence farmers in Tanzania, facilitating and shaping industrial education policies in the EU to community safety policy in the UK.
MMCLT is a perfect vehicle for harnessing local support to deal with the environmental issues we face locally. Light on its feet, it can act quickly to take advantage of opportunities, as well as plan carefully based on the views of local people. As an Interim Board member, I have witnessed its capacity for filling the gap between having ideas and successful implementation. I want to use my creativity and experience to open up opportunities for wider groups of stakeholders to help develop imaginative responses to our environmental challenges.
In the future MMCLT should forge strong partnerships with other groups and organisations aiming to bring more land under community control, improve biodiversity, create employment opportunities and provide a local market for local produce. It’s a big programme but I have the skills to help MMCLT achieve it.
Previously in the east, I was involved in founding another independent body, the Langdyke Countryside Trust which celebrated its 20th birthday in 2019 and has six nature reserves extending to nearly 200 acres near Peterborough. Their efforts are centred on Helpston, which also happens to be the birthplace of the poet John Clare who is now seen as a leading poet of the natural world. I believe that the arts can play a key role in getting the environmental message across to the wider community.
I have a background in farming and for twenty years or so I kept a small herd of Dexter cattle and latterly Wiltshire Horn sheep as well, in part because extensive grazing is an important component of managing many wildlife habitats.
As one of the founding members of Middle Marches Community Land Trust, I am keen to transfer to the full Management Board and help its further growth. In my view, an independent CLT can play a key role in bringing people and organisations together to facilitate change and to be able to act quickly to safeguard important wildlife sites, unhindered by bureaucracy. It is also a great way to give local communities more of a say over the future of the environment in which they live.
My main love is native plants, the preservation of their habitats and sharing that passion with others.
I am one of the six founders of the MMCLT, a vision that within its short lifetime has already achieved much and struck a chord with many.
I think my main attribute as well as local ecological knowledge is the network of contacts that I have built up over the decades both among the conservation and farming communities.
Being part of the MMCLT founders’ group has been one of the most positive and fulfilling things I have been involved with, and I really would like to continue and to transfer to the new Board. The territory that MMCLT has occupied feels really useful and valuable, where a real difference can be made without duplicating what is already happening elsewhere. At this time of transition for our countryside and wildlife, building common ground and generating new dialogues and solutions is more important than ever.
I have always held a passion for our countryside and landscape. After a degree in Rural Environment Studies I worked in various roles, but always connected to the countryside and environment. This has been both in practical and strategic roles. For 25 years this has been in management roles, especially in protected landscapes and World Heritage Sites. Recently this included work managing a community land trust in the Wyre Forest. My first love has always been working the tools, and I started my career doing this, and most recently have returned to this in the Shropshire Hills as a conservation contractor and running a small woodyard and sawmill.
The skills I can offer are more creative and strategic, orientated to building projects and developing opportunities for collaboration. I have a long and successful track record bringing in funding for countryside and heritage projects.
I have lived at Hill Cottage, The Bog since 2011. In 2012 I retired from lecturing at Liverpool John Moores University where I had been leader of the Wildlife Conservation degree course; my academic interests encompassed ecology and its application to conservation of habitats and species. I have advised on management plans for conservation sites e.g. Mere Sands Wood, a Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, and I am familiar with writing conservation management plans. I specialised in conservation grazing – the use of grazing animals for management of habitats for conservation.
In part that interest derived from keeping a flock of Hebridean sheep, a breed widely used for conservation grazing. Sheep-keeping also led to my involvement with the Rare Breed Survival Trust, a national charity. I was an RBST Trustee and Boardmember from 1999 to 2019 (re-elected three times) and chaired its Scientific Development Committee and later its Conservation Committee.
At Hill Cottage we manage 10ha (25 acres) of hay meadow and hill grassland for both our flock and for its wildlife interest. As a smallholder I am familiar with the intricacies of claiming support payments, including agri-environment schemes, and hence with dealing with the Rural Payments Agency, albeit on a small scale.
Our hay meadows encouraged us to join Marches Meadow Group at its foundation in 2015, since then I have been MMG’s secretary. In that role I have prepared successful grant applications e.g. to the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund and helped deliver externally funded projects. I am also an active member of Upper Onny Wildlife Group.
In summary, I would bring an academic and practical knowledge of habitat conservation, Trustee and Board member experience, familiarity with RPA and an involvement with other local community groups.
My passions and background are in ecology, wildlife, and the environment. I started out in NGOs including FoE back in the late 70s, worked for years in the private sector, spending the bulk of my career working for Government, retiring in 2020. We face twin global crises -climate change and biodiversity loss.
Traditional conservation, focussing on small fenced off nature reserves, priority species lists, last-chance refuges for threatened creatures, is no longer enough. We must change. The ways forward must include regenerative agriculture (carbon farming), habitat connectivity, habitat creation on a landscape scale, ‘re-peopling’ as we re-naturalise the landscape. For me, a version of rewilding suitable for the middle marches area fully fits the bill.
That’s where MMCLT comes in. Who knows, with vision and work, we could restore the whole of the Welsh / English Marches, providing long-term, sustainable livelihoods for more people.
Our structure makes MMCLT unique in the region. We can be fast on our feet, creative, look further ahead than any bound by Government spending limits or grant timetables. As a former professional with oversight of both, I know exactly how frustrating they can be! Short-term funding usually leads to short-term goals, whether or not they’re right.
Answerable to our shareholders and members, not remote hierarchies or politically timid stakeholders, MMCLT can dare to dream big and be bold. To do that, we can remain a voluntary movement – but can never be amateur in our approach. The unsexy stuff still needs to be done to a professional standard – governance, strategic planning, financial probity.
The steering group already has lots of different, and very practical, environmental skills. Complementing these, I’ll bring experience and expertise in strategy, reporting, management, and delivery – helping us to earn and keep the full confidence of shareholders, supporters, and donors.
Enterprise House, Station Street, Bishops Castle, SY9 5AQ
01588 650 364 (Oliver, interim Secretary)