22 November 2023
The title of Honorary Fellow of the Royal Agricultural University, the University’s highest honour, has been bestowed on Wiltshire organic farmer, and Chief Executive of the Soil Association, Helen Browning, and Jeremy Moody, Secretary and Adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).
In a special ceremony in the Cirencester-based university’s Boutflour Hall, presided over by Lord Bathurst in his role as Vice President of the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery presented both Helen and Jeremy with their Honorary Fellowships in front of an audience of RAU Governors, students, and staff and invited guests.
Before the official part of the evening, guests enjoyed a short talk from both Helen and Jeremy about their careers and work in the agricultural sector and there were questions from Professor McCaffery and members of the audience.
Delivering the citation for the conferment of Helen for her Honorary Fellowship, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair of the RAU’s Governing Council, told guests: “When future generations look back at the story of how agricultural policy and practice was transformed in the late 20th and early 21st century, one name will rise repeatedly to the surface.
“That name is Helen Browning, who has had her finger on the pulse of how farming needs to change, and been a role model in pursuing that change, for nearly 40 years. As a result of her determined leadership and practical example, the stated ambitions of public policy for food and farming now focus on soil sustainability, public benefit, and healthy, local food.”
Helen Browning took on the tenancy of her father’s 1,350 acre farm, in the Wiltshire village of Bishopstone, near Swindon, in 1986 and turned it organic. She later went on to found Eastbrook Farm Organic Meats and the Helen Browning Organic brand.
Alongside this, and her work at the Soil Association, Helen has held a number of public appointments, helped to set up the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission.
Dame Fiona concluded: “Your award of an Honorary Fellowship represents your lifelong commitment to sustainable farming and food production and your consistent and inspiring leadership in the field. Thank you.”
Jeremy Moody, who lives in Coleford, Gloucestershire, started his working life in 1979 as a land agent with Carter Jonas. In 1986 he established his own advisory service in rural affairs and public policy before becoming Secretary and Adviser to the CAAV in 1995.
William Leschallas, Head of Employability and Professional Engagement at the RAU, gave the citation for the conferment of Jeremy for his Honorary Fellowship. William said: “Jeremy has dealt with governments in Whitehall, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, and Brussels, engaging in Brexit and their new agricultural and environments policies as well as advising on matters such as land tenure, farm structures, land occupation and use, valuations, and taxation.
“To say that he is respected and knowledgeable is an understatement. He has been instrumental in teaching the young and briefing the already qualified and has helped to shape many of the agricultural and other Government policies that affect the rural sector over a quarter of a century.
“Most people sit in awe of his encyclopaedic knowledge of the property world. He is one of the greats of our industry.”
Accepting her Fellowship, Helen Browning said: “It was a surprise and delight to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Agricultural University!
“It was a lovely evening and a chance to meet many of the university’s esteemed alumni as well as the brilliant senior team of staff and trustees who are now clearly taking the hallowed institution from strength to strength, both in the UK and overseas. I am extremely grateful and honoured by this award.”
Jeremy also thanked the RAU, saying: “It is an enormous pleasure and a great honour to receive this award from the Royal Agricultural University with its long history of training for the land management profession. I especially appreciate this recognition at such a time of change, risk, challenge, and opportunity.
“Both the University and the profession support advice and action for farmers and owners to respond in their own situations to everything from geo-politics and climate change to technology and regulation. I have been very happy to accept this honour in marking the importance of this work.”