Starting just two months apart and joining the same Scarborough office, group secretaries Stephen Dew and Irene Pickering are jointly celebrating 30 years with the NFU.
Both joined Eric Nix - long-standing group secretary for the Scarborough, Bridlington and Sherburn branch – forming one of very few triple NFU partnerships at the time.
After two years, Stephen took on the challenge of moving to Settle and re-building the local NFU branch and NFU Mutual agency from a low point. The branch recovered well, thanks to loyal support from members, and in 1999 he joined with neighbouring group secretary, Tim Palmer, to form the larger Craven branch.
Meanwhile, Irene continued in Scarborough, joining forces with new partner Craig Robinson in 2006 after Eric’s retirement. The branch continued to flourish and a move to larger premises on the outskirts of Scarborough coincided with a change of name to the Yorkshire Coast branch.
More recently, both offices have expanded further. Craven welcomed Claire Radley, Tom Murray and Nick Bowker and the Scarborough team gained a new partner in Lucinda Douglas.
Looking back, Irene says she has always been proud to be part of the NFU. “I’ve always enjoyed working with and helping members,” she said. “I’d like to thank all our members for their kindness and friendship and for making the job a real pleasure even when the industry has faced such challenging times. I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support and hope to continue working with them for many years to come.”
Stephen says that his role has changed massively in some ways over the years and in others not at all. “The farm work is very similar, visiting longstanding loyal customers and NFU Members who have become friends too,” he said. “The work back in the office is unrecognisable to what it was - a larger office, a bigger team and scrutinised governance in a heavily regulated industry!”