Meet the NFU East Anglia team

First published: 03 November 2022

Harvesting in Suffolk

Meet the NFU East Anglia team working on behalf of our members in Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. You can contact us on 01638 672100.

Dr Zoe Leach

NFU East Anglia Regional Director

Dr Zoe Leach leads the NFU East Anglia regional team, spearheading their work across a region with a total agricultural output of £3.4 billion.

Zoe will be a familiar face to many farmers in her previous role as chief executive of the NPA, the trade association for British commercial pig producers.

Zoe, who worked at the NPA under her maiden name of Davies, has extensive experience within the agricultural industry. Between 1995 and 1998 she completed a PHD in pig welfare at the University of Reading, studying the welfare implications of outdoor pig breeding systems.

She then spent three years as farms and trials manager for BQP, including running a pig farm in Suffolk, before she joined Defra in 2002 as senior scientific officer, leading its livestock science unit.

She was appointed general manager of the NPA in 2008 and became its first chief executive in 2014.

Zoe said: “East Anglia is a large pig producing area so I am fortunate to have a lot of great contacts already, but I am also focussed on getting to grips with the myriad of other businesses in the region, understanding the key issues and supporting all members to the best of my ability.”

Charles Hesketh

Regional Policy Manager

Charles Hesketh was appointed to this new role in April 2022 to drive the union’s policy work forward on behalf of members’ businesses in East Anglia.

Charles took over as regional policy manager after three years as NFU Suffolk county adviser.

He grew up in rural Yorkshire near Harrogate and first fell in love with farming at 15, when he began working on a nearby family friend’s organic farm during weekends and holidays.

After completing a four-year business and economics degree at the University of Liverpool, he joined the MDS fresh produce graduate student scheme. This included placements as technical management for a tomato nursery and planning the import of various vegetables to supply the ready meal market.

Before joining the NFU, he worked in the seed potato industry for five years, coordinating planting, allocations and forward planning in East Anglia and further afield.

The regional policy manager role includes championing East Anglian farming and supporting colleagues and members with a wide range of policy issues.

Kelly Hewson-Fisher

National Water Resources Specialist

Food security goes hand-in-hand with water security and Kelly’s role is recognition of the challenges facing farmers and growers as they seek a fair share of water for food production.

Kelly Hewson-Fisher joined the NFU after seven years working as a catchment adviser for Anglian Water. She was brought up on her family’s dairy farm in Lincolnshire and studied agriculture, marketing and business studies at Harper Adams.

She worked for 12 years as an agricultural business consultant, based in East Anglia and the East Midlands, before she joined Anglian Water.

Kelly is married with two daughters and, outside of work, she enjoys running and cycling. She has completed the London and Edinburgh marathons and participated in triathlons.

Rob Wise

Regional Environment Adviser

Rob is tackling key issues including water quality, flood defence and agri-environment schemes on behalf of NFU members in East Anglia.

Rob grew up on his family’s arable farm in Cavendish, Suffolk and studied agriculture at Newcastle University, before completing an MSc in agricultural economics at Michigan State University.

Before joining the NFU his career included five years of policy work in Washington DC, where he helped to draft the 1990 Farm Bill, and time as UK adviser to the Director General at UKASTA, now AIC. He also worked as regional adviser for the CLA and served as chairman of the NFU’s Stowmarket and Sudbury branch.

Brian Finnerty

Regional Communications Adviser

Brian is dedicated to ensuring the NFU and its members are well represented in the regional media.

He is a former journalist whose career has included working on weekly and daily newspapers in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Australia. He was Chief Reporter for the Morning Advertiser, the trade newspaper for the brewing and pub retailing industry, before moving into public relations.

Brian joined the NFU in October 1999. As well as editing the regional pages of British Farmer & Grower, his role includes handling media enquiries, organising campaigns to promote a positive image of farming and advising members on communication issues.

Flora Archer

Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire County Adviser

Flora Archer works on behalf of NFU members in Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire.

Flora joined the regional team in May 2022 from Grainseed, where she was responsible for the official maize trials and then the wider on farm trials in various other crops such as OSR and grass. She also took on a sales role, focusing on mainly forage crops.

She grew up on an arable farm in Norfolk and was heavily involved in setting up a farm diversification there, a riding school and livery business.

After an apprenticeship in business management with local buying group Anglia Farmers, she joined the the British Beet Research Organisation, where she undertook many different roles within the organisation, including working in the lab monitoring aphids and virus levels within the crop. 

Flora also leads on cereals and sugar beet within the regional team.

Hannah Padfield

NFU Cambridgeshire County Adviser

Hannah joined the NFU’s regional team as assistant business development manager in 2005, having previously worked as county development officer for Essex Young Farmers’ Club.

She grew up on her parents’ farm in west Essex, near Bishops Stortford. She graduated from Reading University in 1993 and obtained an MSc in rural and regional resources planning from Aberdeen University in 1996.

In addition to her role as county adviser for Cambridgeshire, she handles tenancy issues on behalf of NFU members within East Anglia.

Adam Scott

Essex County Adviser

Adam Scott works on behalf of NFU members in Essex.

Adam is a former Essex farm manager. His previous experience includes managing a mixed dairy and arable farm in the county, but he swapped cows for commuting in 2000 when he joined the Food Standards Agency in London.

He then spent five years with specialist agri-food business consultants European Food and Farming Partnerships before joining the NFU.

Adam has just completed 10 years with the NFU, which included a three year period away from Essex, working across the East Anglia region.

“I’ve experienced the role that the NFU plays from both the farming side and Government perspective and I have the highest regard for the quality of work it delivers on behalf of its members,” said Adam.

Josh Redford

NFU Hertfordshire County Adviser

Josh works on behalf of NFU members in Hertfordshire.

He is originally from Sussex and caught the farming bug as a teenager, when he helped on a local dairy farm. After undertaking an Agriculture BSc at Cirencester he worked on an arable farm in Cambridgeshire, and with Farmcare as a trainee agronomist before he joined Greens of Soham.

Away from work, he is a qualified water sports instructor and an infantry reservist.

John Newton

NFU Norfolk County Adviser

John is in his second spell with the NFU, working on behalf of NFU members in Norfolk.

John first joined the NFU as assistant county secretary, working with county secretary Ken Leggett in the office in Ber Street, Norwich.

After NFU regionalisation he became livestock specialist for the East Anglia region before working as national egg specialist and then national poultry adviser. He left in 2003 to join ADAS as a senior poultry consultant, rejoining the NFU in October 2014.

Alongside his county adviser role, John leads on poultry issues for NFU East Anglia.

Karena Bean

Regional Coordinator

Karena joined the regional team in November 2020, after 21 years working for the Animal Health Trust within the Centre for Equine Studies.

Her role includes overseeing, and ensuring, a coordinated administration service to regional staff, as well as the NFU's boards and committees.

In her spare time, Karena enjoys horse riding, gardening and running.

Michelle Dunnett

Regional Administrator

Michelle has 25 years’ experience working with the regional team in East Anglia, providing administrative and secretarial support and helping to organise member meetings.

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