You are here

Creating Leaders at The 21st CRL Course

Challenge of Rural Leadership
Thursday, 13 April, 2017 - 11:15

The Worshipful Company of Farmers’ 21st Challenge of Rural Leadership coordinated by the RBS took place in January at Dartington Hall in Devon; the 2017 cohort of 18 delegates included a broad range of farmers with diverse businesses, but also a significant number of the vital supporting agricultural industries, such as agricultural valuers, anaerobic digestion experts and land agents.

Speakers this year included the President of the National Farmers’ Union, Meurig Raymond, Neil Parish MP, George Eustice MP and some experts more local to us, such as Bill Clarke of Trewithen Diary. These and other speakers brought significant expertise, life-taught leadership as well as knowledge, particularly from a political perspective to the course. The reputation of the Worshipful Company of Farmers’ Challenge of Rural Leadership continues to grow, and it is easy to appreciate why the course is respected. The course is probably best summed up by two of this year’s delegates.

Simon Bainbridge farms a 650ha upland organic farm with 150 suckler cows and 1,500 breeding ewes with his wife, Claire and his parents. Healthy, maternal livestock and quality feed is a priority.

I have been given the fantastic opportunity to take part in the 21st Worshipful Company of Farmers’ Challenge of Rural Leadership, which has brought together eighteen delegates from across the UK and the globe. We are staying at Dartington Hall in Devon, which is providing us with incredible facilities to be able to develop and grow as leaders, whilst making friends for life and giving us time to think away from our businesses.

From the start of the course, our challenges commenced with connections being forged and unique diversity bringing laughter, honesty and respect with them generating mutual encouragement. All of these contribute to something inspiring with a life-long legacy for our group, and by the end of the course we will have evolved into what could easily be called ‘a family’.

This course is directed by Richard Soffe and his team from Duchy College on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, and we as a group have benefitted from the opportunities granted by the Challenge of Rural Leadership and in return, a high level of personal investment is required to get the most from the course. Each day brings a number of new challenges which have included, an intensive case study, psychometrics, leadership development, communications, the media, adventure,tradition and lifechanging learning.

I am hoping that this time away from home will really increase my ability to drive my business forward, represent the farming community in Northumberland and nationally with greater strength, and improve my work life balance. Back at home I am told that things are running very efficiently, with even the hint that they are getting more done without me! The usual winter routine of feeding and bedding continues, with some fencing and a good tidy up taking place as well. Work on the chicken shed is progressing with the feed bins now in place, the majority of the fencing up and the team from NewQuip arriving to construct the internal multi tier system. (Courtesy of Farmers Weekly, where this article first appeared).

Nicky Mann, from Australia supported by Nuffield Australia.

I was so impressed with the selection process of Duchy College and the Worshipful Company of Farmers, as every single participant was an accomplished, highly successful individual but so personable and passionate to help one another achieve a common goal of improving ourselves for the betterment of the agricultural sector. This greatly added to the success of the course.

We feel humbled to have spent two weeks with this inspirational group of rural leaders. We have formed friendships, allies, mentors, confidants as well as bonds for life. There is a phenomenon that groups that have attended this particular course in the past still gather annually just to catch up, visit farms and generally keep each other motivated and focused on the bigger purpose. I can see this year’s group being no exception.

For more information or to apply for the course, please call 0845 458 7485 or