A former environment minister has been announced as the new president for the South of England Agricultural Society in 2018.
Richard Benyon MP, who was born and bred in the Berkshire countryside and has been involved in agriculture all his life, will take up the position with Sue St Pierre from North Chailey as his deputy.
He said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of president of the South of England Agricultural Society.
“This is a critical time for the future of agriculture in this country and I look forward very much to involving myself in the work of the Society over the next 12 months.”
After a career in the army, Richard studied at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, then worked as a land agent and qualified as a chartered surveyor.
He is now chairman of the board, which runs the family estate in Berkshire and Hampshire. This includes tenanted farms, rental property, forestry, arable and a prize-winning herd of Hereford cattle.
He is involved with many countryside organisations including the John Simonds Trust, a rural education charity in West Berkshire; Plantlife, the national conservation charity for which he is Species Champion in Parliament for the snake’s-head fritillary; The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust; and the Newbury & District Agricultural Society, serving as the President of the Royal County of Berkshire Show.
Richard’s career in politics began as a local councillor in West Berkshire in the 1990’s. He was elected to Parliament for the Newbury constituency in 2005.
From 2010 until 2013, he served as the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries as part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Prior to this appointment, he was the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Fisheries and Wildlife and has also served as a Whip.
He has remained very involved with environmental issues in Parliament, chairing the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group and vice-chair of the APPG for Waterways.
Sue St Pierre, who will be this year’s deputy president, retired last year as the society’s honorary veterinary surgeon at the South of England Show after 40 years.
A highly regarded vet, Sue established two large practices in Burgess Hill where she specialised in surgery and horses.
Sue was also an official vet for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, responsible for the health and welfare of all competing horses at international events such as Hickstead, Royal Windsor, Olympia, the European Championships and the highlight of her career, when she officiated at the 2012 London Olympics.
Charlie Burgoyne, chairman of the South of England Agricultural Society said: “As a charity that funds and supports agricultural education and countryside learning through its shows, events, competitions, bursaries and scholarships, we are absolutely delighted to announce Richard Benyon MP as our president and Sue St Pierre as deputy president for 2018 and we look forward to welcoming them both at many of our events throughout the year.”
Members of the public are encouraged to get involved by volunteering at the shows, attending events and supporting the charity by becoming a member, which includes free entry to all the shows.
More info at www.seas.org.uk