Askham Bryan College has appointed the first Director of the National Centre for the Uplands to drive forward the College's vision to create a focus for excellence and a national forum for debate on this important sector of agriculture and the countryside.
Julia Aglionby - the first Director of the National Centre for the Uplands.
Julia Aglionby, a nationally renowned Uplands and Common Land expert, will take up the role on 1st December. The Centre will be based in Cumbria, at Newton Rigg College which became part of the specialist college for landbased studies in August last year.
Mrs Aglionby is a chartered surveyor and agricultural valuer by profession, and for the last 15 years she has developed her career at H&H Land and Property in Carlisle, latterly heading up their environmental team and working with estates across the North of England and beyond.
Commenting on her new role she said: "My aim is for the Centre to be the focus for education, training and discussion about hill farming and the uplands, combining farm practice and research evidence to inspire excellence. My passion is to act as a bridge between farmers, organisations and businesses with an interest in the rural community, whether that's landowners, the government, tourism bodies or environmental organisations."
A member of Defra's Sustainable Upland Forum, earlier this year Mrs Aglionby became Chairman of the Foundation for Common Land, a charity which brings together those managing pastoral common land. She is also a faculty member of The Prince of Wales's Food and Farming Summer School.
Commited to helping protect the interests of farmers and the cultural heritage, Mrs Aglionby's experience includes advising MPs and peers on uplands issues, speaking and chairing international events, and working with organisations ranging from Natural England, Defra and the Federation of Cumbria Commoners to farmer-led initiatives, for example the Cumbrian-based Farmer Network. Mrs Aglionby also has an active and practical involvement in the family's beef and sheep farm at Armathwaite near Carlisle.
Announcing the appointment Liz Philip, Askham Bryan College's Chief Executive said: "Developing the Centre will be hugely significant as we raise the profile and stimulate debate about this country's uplands and hill farming. Our students will also benefit from this resource, the local community will benefit from the work we do and the training we offer and on a national scale, it provides a physical base set in what is some of England's finest uplands."
A key part of Mrs Aglioby's work will be to develop partnerships with organisations and businesses with an interest in or concern for the Uplands. Support for the Centre was recently given by The Prince's Countryside Fund and agreements in principle have already been reached with the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the Universities of York and Exeter, the Fresh Start Initiative and H&H Land and Property.
John Robson, Managing Director of H&H Land and Property said: "We are delighted that Julia has been appointed as the inaugural Director of the National Centre for the Uplands. She is, in our view, the natural choice for the position. We intend to support Julia and indeed the Centre in every way we can. The development of the National Centre for the Uplands can without a doubt only assist farmers and landowners in the management of the Uplands and Hill Farming in general.Julia will continue in a consultancy role with H&H Land and Property clients with the existing Environmental and Uplands team based in Carlisle."
The ambitious plans for the Centre include:
- undertaking and publishing research into hill farming and land management in collaboration with York University Environment Department
- using Newton Rigg's Low Beckside farm as a demonstration farm for both research and training
- running training programmes on topics ranging from upland management through to practical skills such as dry stone walling
- organising events including conferences to stimulate discussion about the role of hill farming and the part it plays in environmental management
As well as being a focus for study by the College's own students, the Centre will be used for school visits, and as a centre for developing rural apprenticeships. It is also envisaged that a volunteer network for farmers will be established to provide practical help during peak times on the agricultural calendar.
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