Meet the Team
Rob Hitch, Chair of The Farmer Network
I have been a partner in Dodd & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers since 2007, where I specialise in farming businesses and associated industries. I joined the company in 1997 after six years with Genus, the national dairy consultancy.
I have been a Director of the Farmer Network since 2010 and have had a keen interest and long-standing involvement within the Company’s flagship “Farming Ambition” – Business Support for Young People Programme.
I am pleased to be working with the Farmer Network team to support farmers and their businesses through the agricultural transition period. The next couple of years will throw up many challenges and opportunities which we will all need to help each other through. This will also be a time of change for The Farmer Network and I look forward to watching the organisation continue to grow and develop to meet the needs of its members and the wider farming community.
Adam Day, Managing Director
"I have spent 30 years working as a Land Agent and Auctioneer throughout Cumbria and beyond. I still enjoy auctioneering on a freelance basis, mostly at Penrith Mart, where I first started my career many years ago.
I Joined the Farmer Network in 2015 initially working 3 days per week but now working 4 days per week. I am involved in all facets of the Network working closely with the Board of Directors and the Management Council’s to ensure that the Network is delivering what members want and need. A priority in my role has been to raise awareness of the Farmer Network and increase membership. In doing so we have been able improve income streams and project funding. The Farmer Network is a sustainable business model and well placed to continue providing a range of services and support for farmers, their families and their businesses going forward.
Away from the Network I perform with a band called the Soul Survivors and we travel all over the North playing at weddings and functions. I also potter about in a vegetable allotment which in tandem with my garden remains a constant challenge."
Head Office Team
Donna Gough, Senior Operations Manager
"I’ve worked as Office Manager since 2011, overseeing the office staff and work tasks. I am also heavily involved with membership recruitment, sponsorship liaison and promotion. I also work on the company finances.
Outside of work I enjoy helping out on my dad’s farm where we run 400 texel/beltex/cheviot ewes. I take holidays in lambing time and help out on my days off and weekends."
Melanie Mawson, Finance Officer
"I have worked for The Farmer Network for 10 years as the Finance Officer. My duties include all the financial aspects of the company and providing office support. I normally work 3 days per week from the office and occasionally from home. I live near Penrith with my husband and two daughters."
Angela Chappelhow, Office Assistant
"I’ve worked for the network since 2011 as an office assistant, helping with fuel orders, membership, invoicing and helping other members of staff with admin jobs. I am also a coordinator for the North Cumbria Grassroots Dairy Club.
Outside of work I enjoy working on the family dairy farm along with looking after my two young boys."
Sally Cleasby, Admin Assistant
"I have worked for the farmer network for 3 years now. I work as an admin assistant and I’m responsible for the membership and the fuel ordering. I help out on the family farm when I am currently starting up my own Hampshire Down flock."
Veronica Waller, Senior Project Manager
"I work as a Project Manager for the Farmer Network managing a range of projects including Grassroots Clubs, the CSS Facilitation Fund groups, a project engaging farmers about Natural Flood Management and the Storm Emma relief fund. I also help farmers with grant applications particularly to the Countryside Productivity Scheme and Leader programmes and write funding bids. I have worked for the Farmer Network for almost 10 years and previously worked for the Leader programme as a grants officer, for Voluntary Action Cumbria on projects including the marketing of native breed lamb and documenting hill farming systems and before that for the National Farmers’ Union as a Policy Adviser. I work part time as I have two children of school age and spend most of my time away from work running after them."
Kate Gascoyne, Project Manager
"I’ve worked for The Farmer Network on a part-time basis for 10 years, fitting it around other work and also time on the home smallholding producing beef, eggs, fruit and salad crops. I organise events and farmer group meetings and co-ordinate the Business Support for Young People project, enabling them to get the most from the advice and support available from the Prince’s Trust and local expertise. I also co-ordinate the Farmer Network input into the Hill Sheep Health project, Farmers against Parasites, working with hill farmers, in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the London and Liverpool Vet schools. For a number of years I managed the overall Farm Trials project with support from the Prince’s Countryside Fund and other organisations and I am currently trying to develop new farmer-led projects to build on what we have already learned."
Ruth Kendal, Project Manager
“I have recently started working at The Farmers Network as a project manager and funding specialist. I am currently working on the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme in the Kirkby Stephen and Swaledale areas. I have worked in Agricultural Consultancy for over 16 years. I am a FACTS and BASIS Soils and Water Qualified advisor and trainer. I specialise in fertilisers, soils, water quality, resource efficiency on farms and environmental management as well as training course design and provision.
I grew up on a beef and sheep farm near Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria and have helped in the development and management of the farm’s diversification enterprises. I enjoy playing sport but more recently I find myself spectating from the side lines at football matches or being a taxi to my daughter’s gymnastics competitions.”
Ruth Dalton, Project Manager
I have just started working for the Farmer Network managing the new Sheep Scab Project in the North of England. This project aims to help groups of farmers access the new blood test for scab, and coordinate treatment to eradicate the problem from their local area.
I also work a day a week for the Pasture Fed Livestock Association so I've been working with Kate Gascoyne to organise joint events for farmers interested in incorporating more trees into their livestock enterprise.
At home we have a small farm with a pedigree native breed suckler herd, and I occasionally do some freelance consultancy, specialising in native breeds."
Vicky Slater, West Cumbria Coordinator
I have been working for the Farmer Network for just over 12 months now, as a coordinator mainly across West Cumbria. I will be working closely with Will Rawling to organise the West Coast Grassroots Club as well as working alongside Kate and Veronica on some of the Farmer Network projects including the Hill Sheep Health Project and Discussion Groups.
Outside the Farmer Network I work on the family beef and sheep farm up on Cold Fell. We also offer Open Access Educational visits, working with local schools getting Primary aged children out onto the farm. I also have three young children of my own to keep me busy.
Carol Moffat, East Cumbria & Western Dales Coordinator
"I am a Farmer Network Coordinator, working across the Yorkshire Dales including Swaledale Wensleydale, and the Western Dales as well as my home area around Sedbergh. I organise the Grass Roots clubs in Sedbergh and Askrigg and also run the Swaledale Facilitation Group prinicipally engaged in Natural Flood Management.
Claire Foster and I also work together to manage the Yorkshire members Fuel Buying Group. I am also running a project in the Westmorland Dales which will include knowledge transfer events, skills development courses for young people, funded training courses and lots more. I also sit on the board for the Farmer Network, and the Yorkshire Dales Council to get a real take on what the farmers want from the Network and influence our work. Away from the Network I also work in partnership with my Dad and Brother on our tenanted Farm in Garsdale. So never a dull moment for me!"
Jodie Swan, South Cumbria Coordinator
I have just started working at the Farmer Network and excited to get involved with up coming projects and meetings with the South West Grassroots Dairy club. I am looking forward to getting to know the members, and promoting the network in my local area. I took part in the Networks young persons scheme back in 2014 and I am keen to encourage others into farming.
Outside of the network I have a small sheep farm at Cartmel fell, and Work on local farms. I enjoy showing my sheep and going to local shows.
Peter Faulder, Forgotten Lands Facilitator
I became the Facilitator for the Forgotten Lands Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund in the north-east corner of Cumbria in January 2020. I organise meetings workshops for the group throughout the year with the help of Chris Turner of Natural England. Unfortunately, due to covid most of these have been on zoom, but we are looking forward to having face to face workshops again soon.
I am a FACTS and BASIS soil and water qualified and an independent adviser. Much of my advisory work is on Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming programme in soil, water, infrastructure auditing, nutrient planning and soil sampling. I grew up on a farm in north Cumbria where my eldest brother currently farms and still return if required.
Claire Foster, Eastern Dales Coordinator
"I am a farmer’s daughter originally from Ledston, a small village to the east of Leeds, where my parents are arable farmers. I now live at Pateley Bridge with my other half who is a beef and sheep farmer. I studied at Askham Bryan College and have a BSc in Sustainable Land Management.
I began my role with The Farmer Network in August 2016 working closely with fellow Yorkshire Dales Coordinator, Carol Moffat on services including the Yorkshire Members Fuel Buying Group. I also run training courses, organise farmer meetings & events and facilitate a Grassroots Club for farmers in Wharfedale.
I am also a partner in the Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife Partnership. I am FACTS qualified and have the BASIS Soil and Water Management qualification.
I do like to work on the farm when time permits and I enjoy going to local shows and sales."