Meet the NFU East team

12 October 2023

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Meet the NFU East team working on behalf of our members in Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Surrey, Suffolk East Sussex and West Sussex. You can contact us on 02476 939403 or email [email protected].

Dr Zoe Leach OBE

NFU East Regional Director

Zoe joined the National Farmers’ Union in August 2023 and is the Regional Director for the East Region. This involves looking after NFU members’ interests from North Norfolk to West Sussex. 

Zoe’s passion is to ensure that members are properly represented and supported by the NFU, and in turn that they understand the significant benefits that being a member of such an incredible organisation brings.

Prior to joining the NFU, she worked for the National Pig Association from 2008 to 2022. She took on the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2014 and led the organisation through some very turbulent times.

This followed five years working in the Livestock Science Unit within Defra where she managed the research and development portfolio on livestock production.

Previous to that she ran a large pig rearing unit and trials facility for the integrated pig production company BQP in Suffolk. She gained a PhD in outdoor sow management and welfare with Cambac JMR Research in 1998.

Zoe has been awarded the OBE in the first King’s Birthday honours list. She was granted the honour in recognition of her services to the pig industry.

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 across the region.

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 farming in the East and supporting colleagues and members with a wide range of policy issues.

Hannah Padfield

Regional Network Manager

Hannah, previously our Cambridgeshire county adviser, was promoted to the new role of regional network manager for NFU East in August 2023.

Hannah is already a familiar face to many members, joining the NFU in 2005 as assistant business development manager, after previously working as county development officer for Essex Young Farmers.

She grew up on her parents’ farm in west Essex, near Bishops Stortford, graduating from Reading University in 1993 and obtaining an MSc in rural and regional resources planning from Aberdeen University in 1996. She was business development manager for East Anglia before taking on the county adviser role in 2012.

In her new role, Hannah will manage the NFU’s eight-strong county adviser team and lead NFU growth and engagement strategies across the region.

Rob Wise

Regional Environment Adviser

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

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

Membership Communications and Engagement Adviser

Brian takes the lead on member communications across the region. His role includes helping to develop and deliver a coordinated member communications and engagement plan for the East, which supports recruitment and retention of members.

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 regional public relations officer. As well as editing the regional pages of British Farmer & Grower, he organises campaigns to promote a positive image of farming and advises members on communication issues.

Emily Brown

Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire County Adviser

Meet new Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire County Adviser Emily Brown, who is looking forward to working closely with members, officeholders and group secretaries.

Emily grew up on a mixed farm in Bedfordshire and has been involved in helping out across the business, from working in the family farm shop to working with livestock and driving the combine at harvest.

She graduated from Harper Adams with a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture with Farm Business Management in 2021 and then worked as the Students’ Union president until 2022. She was also an NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador from 2022 to 2023 so has a good understanding of the NFU and what it can do for members.

In her spare time, Emily enjoys playing her guitar, being in the outdoors, fitness and following women’s rugby. She is also an active member of Bedford Young Farmers.

Adam Scott

Essex County Adviser

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.

Adam 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.

Amanda Corp

Kent County Adviser

Amanda Corp has been in her role since 2016. She has experience working in the top fruit and fruit processing industry as well as sales management and has a degree in Politics and a Masters in International Law. Amanda grew up in Kent and resides in the east of the county.

Flora Archer

Norfolk County Adviser

Flora joined the regional team in May 2022 as County Adviser for Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire and was appointed Norfolk County Adviser on 1 February 2023. 

Previously she worked for 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. 

Ella Thackray

NFU Suffolk County Adviser

Ella joined the NFU's county adviser team in July 2023 and she is looking forward to helping farm businesses across Suffolk.

She is not from a farming family but has always lived in Suffolk. She started helping out on farms during lambing and went on to study for a BSc in agriculture at Harper Adams. This included a placement with BASF in its trials team at Woolpit, assisting the development agronomists and helping with the trial seed department.

Prior to joining the NFU she was innovation crops product manager at Agrii, sourcing, developing, contracting, and marketing niche crops, including naked oats, naked barley, haricot beans, and chickpeas. Ella also plays an active role with Suffolk Young Farmers.

Harriet Henrick

Surrey and Sussex County Adviser

Harriet is working to help members in Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. She has moved from the NFU’s livestock team to cover the area while Romy Gue is on maternity leave.

She already knows the patch well as she grew up on a small mixed livestock farm in East Sussex. In 2014 she graduated from the Royal Agricultural University with a BSc (Hons) in agriculture and animal management.

She then worked in New Zealand on a beef and sheep trial farm before she joined the NFU’s bovine TB team in 2015. She moved to the livestock team in 2019.

Her spare time is mostly taken up with farming but she also has two green houses and polytunnels where she grows vegetables and cut flowers for the local florist, as well as some tropical plants.

Karena Bean

Senior Regional Administrator

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.

Steph Pinhorn

Regional Administrator

Steph joined the South East team in August 2022 and has now moved across to support the new East region. She will continue to assist with member–focussed meetings and events and all elements of regional team administration.

Danielle Miles

Regional Administrator

Danielle joined the regional team in September 2023. Her role includes assisting with member–focussed meetings and events and all elements of regional team administration.

Outside of work she enjoys reading, walking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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