The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is delighted to launch the new RWAS Rural Leadership Programme for 2022-2023.
The Society acknowledges with grateful thanks the generous legacy of the late Mrs Mair Jones Griffiths, supported by the Glamorgan Feature County 2023.
The Leadership Programme aims to provide an action-packed programme of training, mentoring, support and guidance over three intense residential sessions. The opportunity to network with high profile individuals within the industry started with a selection/taster day for candidates in May 2022.
Aimed at inspiring future leaders in agriculture, the programme is an opportunity to develop leadership skills at such an important time for our sector.
The 14 successful candidates, announced in yesterday’s awards ceremony, are (in alphabetical surname order) –
Nicola Davies, Marton, Welshpool
Nicola Davies is a newly qualified solicitor at a rural firm offering a range of legal and advisory services to farmers, landowners, and rural people. As a farmer’s daughter, Nicola has a good understanding of the challenges faced by farmers and hopes to develop her knowledge further through the training and mentoring available in the programme.
“I feel very lucky to have been selected for the Leadership Programme and look forward to meeting and learning from high profile individuals and the other candidates. I hope to develop my leadership skills in the varied agricultural sector by learning about the successes and challenges others have faced in the industry.”
Joshua Govier, Llwynhelig, Cowbridge
Joshua Govier is the Livestock Manager at Penllyn Estate, Vale of Glamorgan. Born and raised in Cardiff with no farming ancestors but with a passion for agriculture and the countryside, Joshua was committed to pursuing a career in agriculture and attended Penllyn Estate in the Vale of Glamorgan for work experience. Joshua now lives on the Estate with his partner and our two young children. For the past five years, he has been the livestock manager solely responsible for the 1100-strong flock of New Zealand Romney ewes supplying meat the estate’s farm shop Forage.
“By being part of the leadership development programme, I aim to continue developing my skill set and knowledge in order to improve my business. I am looking forward to networking with the group and hearing from industry leaders about the future challenges and opportunities we have as a sector.”
Esyllt Ellis Griffiths, Llanwenog, Llanybydder – Awaiting bio
Natalie Hepburn, Cardiff – Awaiting bio
Zak Hughes, Broad Oak, Shrewsbury
Zak Hughes is a Future Agent with NFU Mutual and previous Agricultural Bank Manager. Zak accidentally fell into the sector, after not coming from a farming background and has a keen interest in agriculture.
“I am looking forward to participating in the programme, building upon my previous experience as an Agricultural Bank Manager and my current role as a Future Agent with NFU Mutual. I hope to build relationships with my peers in the agricultural sector and work towards supporting the industry and its future.”
Sean Jeffreys, Ffairfach, Llandeilo
Sean Jeffrey grew up in Swansea and was fortunate to be able to experience a taste of rural life on his grandparents’ small holding. Sean went on to gain work experience on various farms before attending Harper Adams University, where he studied Agriculture with Marketing.
Sean has previously worked on a Welsh Government funded project facilitating long-term genetic improvements in the Welsh sheep sector through performance recording. He is currently balancing a new role with the Agricultural Merchants, Carr’s Billington alongside establishing a Share Farm Partnership through the Farming Connect Venture scheme on a hill-farm local to Llandeilo.
“Coming from a non-farming background, surrounding myself with people who have a passion for the agricultural industry has always been important to me to learn and expand my knowledge. It is for this reason the Rural Leadership Programme was so appealing. I look forward to embracing every experience the programme offers, especially the opportunity to meet key industry leaders with the industry currently undergoing a period of transformation.”
Hefin Beynon Jones, Llanarthne, Carmarthen
Hefin Jones is the fourth generation to farm at Y Wern, Llanarthne. After studying at Swansea University, Hefin went on to work predominantly in the post-industrial communities of the Gwendraeth Valley and on secondment with various organisations ranging from universities to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, before returning home to farm when his father’s health deteriorated just over a decade ago.
Since returning home to farm, Hefin has been involved in the work of NFU Cymru at county level, as a member of the Next Generation Policy Forum, Livestock Board member and Policy Board member. He is always thankful for opportunities to learn and represent the sector. .Alongside farming, Hefin works as a self- employed interpreter and facilitator. He worked on various aspects of the Farming Connect programme and was recently elected to Carmarthenshire County Council.
Rhys Jones, Crosshands, Carmarthe
Rhys Jones is originally from Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire and has played an active role with the young farmers as a member of Llangadog YFC. Representing Club, County and Wales in both Welsh, and English Public Speaking competitions. Rhys also held the position of County Chairman of NFU Cymru and ran the “Innovation and Technology” Leader Project at Coleg Sir Gȃr and Coleg Ceredigion.
“I have always been passionate about Welsh agriculture, being inspired by my late Grandfather to aspire, and achieve. Having the opportunity to be part of the RWAS Leadership Programme will be invaluable for my own personal development and lend itself well to hopefully improving my understanding to successfully lead and inspire others.”
Elizabeth King, Whitland, Carmarthen
Elizabeth King grew up in Somerset on a small family livestock farm and has always had a passion for agriculture. Elizabeth is a keen and active Young Farmer. During her time within YFC she has competed at county and national level and undertaken a number of official positions including Club Chair.
“I am really looking forward to meeting a diverse range of people during the programme and learning from them and sharing their ambitions. I am certain this programme will provide the opportunity to learn new skills, challenge myself and enable me to make great connections with like-minded individuals. I am thrilled to be able to participate and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”
Sian Mercer, Ffarmers, Llanwrda
Sian Mercer grew up on the family arable and pig farm in England and later moved to the family sheep farm in Carmarthenshire. Sian studied for her National Diploma in Agriculture and BSc Agriculture with Countryside Management at WAC, before heading off to New Zealand to work on dairy farms. A varied career within the industry has followed from teaching at Warwickshire College, event organising for the RABDF, self-employed agricultural photographer and podcaster to now working with NRW on a project working with farmers on the Usk river and Tributaries.
“I am excited to be chosen to be part of the RWAS Rural Leadership Programme as it will bring me in contact with like-minded people to share thoughts and ideas and by meeting industry experts, I can hopefully influence their thinking and bring the important issues affecting our farming communities to the fore
Emily Morgan, Penallta, Hengoed
Having graduated from Harper Adams University in 2021 with a degree in BSc (Hons) BioVeterinary Science, Emily now works as an Account Manager at Animal Feed Manufacture ForFarmers, within the UK Pig Team. Having grown up within the Agricultural Sector, Emily enjoys helping run her family’s flock of both pedigree and commercial sheep as well as being an active member of her local Young Farmers Club.
‘Taking on the role of club chairman of my local young farmers club in September 2021 was a huge challenge but one I’ve really enjoyed. It was my first experience of taking on a leadership role, and although it takes a huge commitment, the rewards pay off. I’m excited to be a part of the RWAS Rural Leadership Programme 2022-23 to further develop those skills!’
Huw Morgan, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon
Huw Morgan farms suckler cows and sheep with family in Talybont-on-Usk, on the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. Huw’s family have been involved in many environmental schemes over the years and they have always farmed with the environment in mind. Huw attended the Welsh Agricultural College in Aberystwyth, where he gained his N.D.A.
As well as the family farm, Huw has worked on a variety of farms in the UK as well as Denmark and New Zealand. Huw has previously been responsible for organising a shearing gang for fifteen years and has been doing contract shearing for 25 years, as well as recently becoming a partner in Aber Valley apple juice.
David Rees, Llangynwyd, Maesteg
“This industry is a rich tapestry of people, ideas and philosophies. But when you’re constantly caught up in the day-to-day runnings of a family farm, it can become very easy to get stuck with stagnant principles. Much can be learnt from reading and researching, but I find it far more enriching to meet and discuss ideas with industry experts who have been there, done it and made the mistakes. I hope that is precisely what the RWAS Rural Leadership Programme can provide.”
“My peers in the programme have already proven themselves to be ambitious and entrepreneurial, and it is in these environments that you feel safe enough to push the ideas and boundaries you may traditionally be restricted to. I hope to finish this course as a more rounded and informed individual, with a new network of peers and an even closer connection to the Royal Welsh.”
Luke Watts, Martlewy, Narberth
Luke Watts farms at home, offering grass-fed lamb boxes using their own homegrown Llanwenog and native-bred lambs. The family has recently launched the converted stock box, Moithan Myfanwy, in which they cater for a range of events, offering their own produce from pulled lamb rolls to Moroccan style lamb Koftas. Last year Luke and his family diversified into en-suite camping and glamping on the farm. Luke is proud to educate young campers about the importance of Welsh agriculture and the food that is produced in Wales.
“I feel privileged and am excited to have been selected for the RWAS rural leadership programme. I’m eager to see what the programme has to offer and to spending time with likeminded people within the industry. I hope to develop my skill sets throughout the programme to enable my own self development and share ideas that I can bring home to our own enterprises.”