New team at helm of UK uplands centre

A new team has been announced to drive forward the work of the National Centre for the Uplands at Newton Rigg College, Penrith

The new team at the National Centre for the Uplands, from left, Matt Bagley, Douglas Phillips, Dr Stephen Webster and Wes Johnson
The new team at the National Centre for the Uplands, from left, Matt Bagley, Douglas Phillips, Dr Stephen Webster and Wes Johnson

A new team has been announced to drive forward the work of the National Centre for the Uplands at Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

The centre forms part of a significant investment to help promote the economic sustainability of English uplands.

The team brings together expertise from both Askham Bryan College and Newton Rigg, which became part of the Askham Bryan family in August 2011. Students from both sites will benefit from a range of courses, including a foundation degree in uplands agriculture and land management which is available from next September.

Liz Philip, chief executive, said: “The English uplands are a vital part of our farming and cultural heritage. The centre’s remit is to provide an educational base where the next generation of hill farmers and those with an interest in the uplands can gain the technical skills and professional qualifications they need.

“Our vision is that, equipped with the expertise required, they will then help to drive forward the economic sustainability of these areas.

“Working in partnership with organisations such as the national parks, utility companies and local businesses will be a key part of the work.”

Talks are under way with Duchy College, Cornwall, which also runs land-based courses, and support has already been received from the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

The team will be led by agriculture lecturer and moorlands specialist, Douglas Phillips as manager. His extensive experience includes working with the Heather Trust, managing 10,000 acres of moorland near Glasgow and latterly, managing the college’s moorland at Shap.

Additional expertise will be brought by Dr Stephen Webster, a government policy expert, Matt Bagley, Newton Rigg’s head of agriculture, who will provide sheep and hill farming expertise, Mervyn Lewis, business management specialist, Alastair Philip, beef specialist, Dr Andrew Henworth, animal health, Dr Joanne Beukers-Stewart, water and environment, and Dr Deirdre Rooney, environment specialist.

Wes Johnson, principal at Newton Rigg, said: “The significant breadth and depth of experience and knowledge of this team will ensure that the National Centre for the Uplands has a powerful, effective and influential voice and will not only benefit our students, but the economic development of the uplands for the future.”

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