The Rural List was launched in February 2019 as a face-to-face networking event in Cirencester. Covid-19 forced it online where attendance rocketed. In both formats it has met monthly, less in August and December, welcoming a guest speaker to INSPIRE AND INFORM.
Catch up by browsing the summaries below ...
Fiona provided personalised advice and information to the attendees.
Due to the bespoke nature of the advice, no recording is being made available. However, we will repeat this session in the new year, so if you missed it, look out for the next one.
Guest speaker Jon Turnbull gave a presentation putting drone operations in the context of precision agriculture.
Jon has written a course which is a great entry-point for resettling personnel considering flying drones in support of land management and agriculture and which qualifies for BASIS points.
Andy Steel joined the Navy aged 17, serving for 12 years as an aircraft technician and leaving as a Petty Officer. Since then, the skills and values he learnt in the service have carried him through several commercial and charitable adventures around the world. He emphasised how sought-after are the can-do attitude of the veteran and also strongly recommended that service leavers should lean heavily on the veteran network - it is global and gives all of us a unique advantage wherever we go.
Steve is an army officer living and farming in the Brecon Beacons.
Steve spoke passionately about the health-giving benefits of owning a patch of land and how Covid Lockdown had been enjoyable on the farm.
In the last four years he and his wife have restored the house, planted an orchard and established their industrial hemp operation. They have expectations of forming the nucleus of a developing local hemp cooperative which should make the economic case for selling into the building trade more compelling. Steve's values and drive were inspiring but he was also honest about the difficulties of running a farm at the weekends whilst giving the commitment necessary as an army officer. He also mentioned he had found "Smallholding Manual: The Complete Step-by-step Guide" by Liz Shankland to be a very useful resource. (Ruralink does not further endorse this publication)
Steve extended an open invitation to anyone who wishes to visit and learn more to please get in touch.
Sally presented a detailed exposition of her evidence-based work to develop the Defence Gardens Scheme, highlighting the very successful pilot in Northern Ireland and lessons and inspiration gained from her travels as a Churchill Fellow, which enabled her to learn from the experience of veterans' nature-based therapy interventions in the US and Denmark. Many of her international and clinical collaborators joined her for the question and answer session, which made for a wide-ranging discussion. It was fantastic to have the active participation of the Chairmen of both COBSEO and SSAFA, whose comments were invaluable and which will help take forward DGS and other veteran initiatives.
Sally's report, referenced in the talk, is available here: https://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/reports/defence-gardens-scheme-todays-and-tomorrows-veterans
"Very interesting and honest, just what is needed" said one attendee.
Thanks to Martin for a very open and honest account of how he got into his current role of Keeper and Constable of Epping Forest. There are unique "funnies" about his role, but there are for every land-management role although I don't suppose many rural land managers have quite as many burnt-out cars to deal with!
Martin served in the regular army and then in the reserve before landing this dream job. He says no two days are the same as he includes strategic planning, policing, wide stakeholder engagement, recruiting and mentoring new staff and game management amongst his varied duties.
Martin is very willing to host resettling personnel for volunteer and work experience; if this is of interest, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.
Stephen spoke about career opportunities for landscape contractors, landscape architects, garden designers and suppliers, including necessary training and qualifications for various career pathways.
He also introduced a forthcoming Level 3 ELC-compatable course which is planned to launch in autumn 2020. Further details will be made available via the BALI website and Ruralink as they become available.
Stephen emphasised that military candidates are highly sought after in the sector and encouraged interested candidates to contact him for further details and to discuss options.
Sam Meredith is now working as a catchment Coordinator with the Environment Agency.
Sam recounted his resettlement journey, starting with a rewarding period volunteering in southern Africa with Veterans for Wildlife in Kruger National Park and then with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) in Gloucestershire.
His story also included honest recollections of the times when his job search stalled and how having a strong network gave him the "kick up the bum" to get a job and actually start his civilian career. As he says:
"Getting a job is easier when you have a job."
Happy Birthday to us!
Following on from the first ever Rural Careers Insight Day during the afternoon, up to forty people enjoyed excellent food by Joe at Wildgoose washed down with a glass of Corinium Ales' Premium and listened to a truly inspiring talk by Jonny Kerr, former Army officer, 2020 Oxford Farming Conference Emerging Leader and current farm manager. His talk proved that it is wholly possible for people with drive and determination to succeed in agriculture, even without a traditional farming background.
Thanks to everyone who came along, including business contacts:
A very friendly group of fifteen rural networkers gathered to drink, chat and exchange best practise on business cards, elevator pitches and how to get the best out of LinkedIn. (If you missed out, a handy guide to producing an elevator pitch is available to download here.)
Thanks to Matt Sheerin of After The Military for his insights into how a recruiting agency works and to Wendy Faux for top tips on business cards and for bringing along a very welcome group of military spouses, including an off-duty insider from Recruit for Spouses; we hope you will come again soon!