Meet the North East team

First published: 07 November 2022

North East team members sitting in amongst a big stack of straw bales
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.
Contact Us
Regional Office address:

Agriculture House

207 Tadcaster Road

York YO24 1UD

Get in touch:

Telephone: 01904 451550

Email: [email protected]

Click here for a map

Find more information on individual team members below:

Adam Bedford

Regional Director - North East

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

Joining the North East team in 2016, he works very closely with the region’s team of elected farmer officeholders and has overall responsibility for the regional recruitment and retention of members.

Originally from Huddersfield, and after studying at Askham Bryan College and Newcastle University, he started his career in the NFU as a graduate trainee in 2007. Since then he has worked across three different regions before joining the Brussels Agriculture Bureau for a four-year stint working on European issues.

Adam lives rurally between York and Pocklington with his wife and three boys.

Robert Lea

Business Development Manager

Rob Lea is the Membership Development Manager for the North of England – promoting the recruitment and retention of NFU members across 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 escretaries based in 49 offices across the North to achieve membership development and also provides strategic direction and support to the regional sales teams.

Rob lives in North Yorkshire with his wife and two sons.

The county adviser team

The regional team of five 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.

Jane Dungait

County Adviser - Northumberland & North Durham

Jane joined the NFU in 2017, having previously worked as a rural surveyor for Buccleuch Estates in the Scottish Borders, Smiths Gore and the National Trust where she gained a breadth of experience in landlord and tenant matters.

In her county adviser role, she works alongside Anna Simpson supporting NFU members and managing activity across the county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

She also actively supports NFU group secretaries to drive NFU membership and works closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards. 

Jane is also the regional lead for tenants. 

Before joining the NFU, she graduated from Harper Adams University College and now lives in Northumberland with her husband and their two young sons.

Jane works on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday

Anna Simpson

County Adviser - Northumberland & North Durham

Joining the NFU in 2013, Anna initially worked as a national Environment Policy Adviser, based in York. She joined the regional team as county adviser in 2019.

In her county adviser role, she works alongside Jane Dungait supporting NFU members and managing activity across the county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

She also actively supports NFU group secretaries to drive NFU membership and works closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards. 

Anna is also the regional lead for poultry.

Before joining the NFU, she graduated from Leeds University where she worked on the pig research unit, and joined the ABP graduate scheme. From there she joined AHDB Pork and completed a six-month secondment with Defra where she was involved in the climate change adaption team.

Anna works on Monday, Tuesday & Friday

Laurie Norris

County Adviser - North Riding & Durham

Laurie joined the NFU in 1999 and, as a longstanding member of the team, has held a number of roles including regional policy adviser and environment adviser.

In her county adviser role, based at Concept Business Park in Thirsk, she supports NFU members and manages activity across the county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

She also actively supports NFU group secretaries to drive NFU membership and works closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards. 

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

She lives near Thirsk with her husband and son.

Jennifer Costello

County Adviser - Yorkshire West

Jennifer joined the NFU in 2020 from a Yorkshire based agri-food certification company, having graduated from Harper Adams University and completed a British Poultry Council Scholarship placement year at Gressingham Foods. 

In her county adviser role, she supports NFU members and manages activity across the county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

She also actively supports NFU group secretaries to drive NFU membership and works closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards.

Jennifer is also the regional lead for dairy and sugar beet.

She currently lives in North Yorkshire and in her spare time enjoys walking her dog and riding her horse.

 

Poppy Arnett

County Adviser - York East

Poppy joined the NFU in 2016 as a Bovine TB adviser in the South West. Taking up a secondment with the North East team as county adviser in 2019, she took on the position permanently five months later.

In her county adviser role, she supports NFU members and manages activity across the county. This includes managing the NFU’s lobbying activities with MPs and a range of external organisations from local authorities, the police and government agencies to non-governmental organisations and relevant commercial bodies.

She also actively supports NFU group secretaries to drive NFU membership and works closely with elected farmer representatives including county officeholders and members of regional and national commodity boards.

She is also the regional lead on livestock and horticulture.

Before joining the NFU, she graduated from Harper Adams in 2008 and held various positions with agricultural businesses including Shearwell Data, Cogent Breeding and Mole Valley Farmers.

Outside of work, Poppy supports her partner with his agricultural mechanic business and together they have a son and two labradors.

Environment team

The Environment team deals 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 team also leads the regional drive to achieve net zero.

James Copeland

Senior Environment and Land Use Adviser

Working for the NFU since 2009, James provides specialist advice and guidance on agri-environment schemes, environmental and climate change policy plus planning and other land use issues.

Growing up on an East Yorkshire arable farm, he joined the NFU after eight years working for Defra’s science agency on both national and European projects.

Charged with developing a strategic overview of environmental and land use policies in the region, he works to ensure policy is sustainable for everyone and rooted in the real-world. He is passionate that agri-businesses are given the opportunity to develop and adapt, and that their operating environment allows this to happen.

James is Vice Chair and independent member of the Northumbrian Water Customer Challenge Group. He is also an independent member of the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Yorkshire Water Customer Challenge Group.

He lives in York with his wife and daughter.

 

 

Anna Wright

Assistant Environment and Land Use Adviser

Anna provides advice and guidance to members across the region on environment, land use, climate change and planning issues.

She joined the North East team after a year on the NFU’s Agricultural Policy Graduate Scheme, having graduated from the University of Oxford where she studied geography.

During her time on the graduate scheme, she worked in the climate change team and then in the food and farming department covering dairy, animal health and welfare, and horticulture and potato issues.

Anna has recently moved back to North Yorkshire where she grew up, and in her free time plays squash for her local team.

Regional communications

Rachael Gillbanks

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, she worked for two local authorities and ran a small North East PR business for ten years.

Rachael lives near Malton with her husband and German Shorthaired Pointer.

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

Regional Coordinator

As North East Regional Coordinator, Hannah leads the regional administrative team, providing support to both staff and members.

Hannah joined the North East team in 2010, having previously worked in hotel and hospitality management roles.

She lives in York with her husband.

Michelle Cooper

Administrative Assistant

As the region's Administrative Assistant, Michelle provides support for both staff and members and deals with general enquiries.

Michelle joined the North East team in 2019, before which she worked for a GP's surgery, Aviva and the NFU Mutual.

She lives in York with her partner.

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