Helen Browning (Chief Executive of the Soil Association) – in conversation with Jonathan Dimbleby

Event details

This year, for the first time, the RAU’s prestigious annual Bledisloe lecture will take place online, due to current Covid-19 restrictions.

This free, online event is open to all and will feature Soil Association Chief Executive Helen Browning in conversation with eminent broadcaster, writer, and RAU alumnus, Jonathan Dimbleby

Helen and Jonathan will discuss the existential challenges and opportunities around climate change, regenerative agriculture, and the impact of diet on human health and wellbeing.

Students will then pose questions to Helen in ‘Question Time’ format, chaired by Jonathan. Towards the end of the event, Helen will answer questions posed by the online audience.

Royal Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Jo Price commented:

“Covid has meant we have had to re-think our 175th Anniversary events, which included the high profile annual Bledisloe lecture. While we are sorry not to welcome Helen and Jonathan to campus in person, I am delighted they have agreed to participate. The advantage of taking this event online is that we are now able to share it with the widest possible audience. I hope many will join and be able to participate in an enlightening discussion and critically important topics.”

About Helen Browning  

Helen has been Chief Executive of the Soil Association since 2011, after a long involvement with the charity in a variety of exec and non-exec roles. She is a member of the Food Ethics Council, trustee of the RSPB and a Commissioner for the Food Farming and Countryside Commission. She sits on the BBC’s Rural Affairs Advisory Committee and the National Food Strategy Advisory Panel. 

Prior to rejoining the Soil Association, Helen was Director of External Affairs for the National Trust. She has had a number of roles in agri-politics over the years, including the Government’s Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food (‘the Curry Commission’) and chaired the England Animal Health and Welfare Implementation Group. Helen was awarded an OBE in 1998 for her services to organic farming. 

Helen has a very mixed organic farm Wiltshire. Her products are sold through the Helen Browning’s Organic brand in retailers, big and small, as well as through her mini hotel/dining pub on the farm, and through her restaurant in Swindon.  

About Jonathan Dimbleby 

An RAC/RAU alumnus, Jonathan Dimbleby is a writer, broadcaster and film-maker. 

He chaired Any Questions? from 1987 to 2019, presented Any Answers? between 1988 and 2012 and the monthly World Questions for the BBC World Service from 2015 to 2019.  

He began his career as a television and radio reporter for BBC Bristol in 1969, moving on to Radio 4's The World at One in 1970.  He joined Thames Television in 1972, reporting from all over the world for ITV's This Week. In 1979 he joined Yorkshire TV where he wrote and presented The Eagle and The Bear and other series for the ITV network. Between 1982 and 1986 he presented and was associate producer of the ITV documentary series First Tuesday

For the BBC, he presented On The Record (1987-1992). From 1995 to 2006 he presented ITV's flagship weekly political programme, Jonathan Dimbleby, and anchored the 1997, 2001 and 2005 General Elections.  

In 1994 he wrote, presented, and co-produced Charles, The Private Man, the Public Role and published his book, The Prince of Wales: A Biography. He is the author of 7 books in total, the latest of which, The Battle of the Atlantic, was published in October 2015. He is currently working on a number of other projects including a book about Operation Barbarrossa; the German invasion of Russia in World War Two. 

Jonathan is a past President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), a past President of the Soil Association and a past President of the RSPB.