Meet the team

The North East regional team covers the whole of North East England with four NFU counties: Northumberland, North Riding and Durham, York East and Yorkshire West Riding.

The majority of the 11-strong team is based in York, with two staff members based remotely in Thirsk and Morpeth.

Regional Office:

Agriculture House
207 Tadcaster Road
YO24 1UD

T: 01904 451550
E: bm9ydGguZWFzdEBuZnUub3JnLnVr
Click here for a map

Regional Director

Adam Bedford became Regional Director in March 2016 after working for the NFU locally, nationally and internationally for nine years. Before taking on his Director role, he headed up the NFU’s permanent office in Brussels.

Adam is responsible for managing the regional team, ensuring a co-ordinated approach and liaising with the NFU Mutual and external stakeholders at a senior level – everyone from the Banks and government agencies to MPs and MEPs.

Adam works very closely with the region’s team of elected farmer officeholders and has overall responsibility for the regional recruitment and retention of members.

Membership Development Manager

Rob Lea is the Membership Development Manager for the North of England – covering the North East and North West regions. Before taking on this role he worked as both a County Adviser in the North East as well as a Group Secretary in Shropshire.

Rob works closely with County Advisers and the local network of 86 Group Secretaries based in 49 offices across the North to promote recruitment and retention. He works to provide strategic direction and support to the regional sales teams.

The County Adviser Team

The regional team of four County Advisers are responsible for supporting NFU members and managing NFU activity within their designated county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs, MEPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

They also actively support NFU Group Secretaries and work closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards. Each county adviser also takes regional responsibility for specific farming sectors and commodity boards.


Anna Simpson is the County Adviser for Northumberland. Anna has worked for the NFU as an Environment Policy Adviser and now has transferred to a County Adviser to cover maternity. Anna works from both the Regional Office in York and Netherton Park in Morpeth.

Anna is also the regional lead for poultry and tenants.

North Riding and Durham

Laurie Norris is the County Adviser for North Riding and Durham. A longstanding member of the regional team, Laurie joined in 1999 and has held a number of roles over the years. She is based at Concept Business Park in Thirsk.

Laurie is also the regional lead for combinable crops and hill farming.

York East

Poppy Arnett is the county adviser for York East. Poppy has transferred from the NFU TB team and joined the North East in April 2019. She is based at the regional office in York.

Poppy is also the regional lead for horticulture and livestock.

Yorkshire West Riding

The county adviser post for Yorkshire West Riding is currently vacant. 

Environment Team

The Environment team consist of Environment and Land Use Adviser, James Copeland and Assistant Environment Adviser Kate Adams. They deal with many of the more technical issues farmers face. Their wide-ranging role covers everything from planning policy, rights of way and infrastructure to flooding, waste, access and renewables. James is also the local expert on agri-environment schemes and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

Growing up on an East Yorkshire arable farm, James joined the NFU in 2009 from York’s Central Science Laboratory (now FERA).

Originally from Ayrshire, Kate studied geography and environmental science at Dundee University. Most recently she spent two years with the Health and Safety Executive as a project manager for plant protection products, working on a range of projects including off-label, emergency and renewal authorisations. 

Regional Communications Adviser

Rachael Gillbanks joined the NFU as regional communications adviser in 2004, taking on the task of keeping members and the outside world informed about NFU activity as well as broader farming, food and countryside issues.

Dealing with the media, editing the regional section of British Farmer and Grower magazine, managing the regional pages of NFUOnline and social media content as well as delivering regional shows, events and campaigns are all key tasks.

Before joining the NFU, Rachael ran a small North East PR business for ten years.

Administrative Team

The region’s administrative team is often the first point of contact for members ringing the regional office. They keep the office running smoothly, are responsible for taking bookings for the busy calendar of meetings and for helping orchestrate major set piece events such as the regional presence at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Hannah Drew is the regional co-ordinator and joined the NFU in 2010.
Michelle Cooper is the regional administrative assistant and joined the NFU in 2019.