Our board

The ACRE board is made up of voluntary directors whose role is to set out the charity’s strategic direction.

The board approves ACRE’s Corporate Plan and ensures the organisation is delivering its charitable aims and objectives. Other core tasks include annual performance assessments, as well as corporate responsibilities and accountability.

All directors are elected by the members of the ACRE Network

David Emerson CBE

David Emerson CBE

Chair

David was elected Chair of ACRE in November 2014. Until the end of 2016 he was the Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), the professional membership association for the UK’s charitable trusts and grant making foundations. He now works freelance advising charitable foundations. David’s initial professional background in geography, and then landscape management at Wye College, preceded his first employment with Cheshire RCC before he became Deputy Head of the then Rural Department at NCVO. Subsequently he worked in a variety of roles in professional theatre in the West End and abroad, as well as in TV, and then moved to run the membership association for regional theatre in the UK. Alongside his professional roles, David has co-authored four published books, including the first on ‘Only Children’; been the secretary of a trust promoting contemporary opera; and he currently also manages a small wildflower meadow in Herefordshire. David was awarded the CBE in the 2015 New Year's Honours list.

Mark Shucksmith OBE

Mark Shucksmith OBE

Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE is Professor of Planning at Newcastle University. He was co-opted onto the ACRE board in April 2014 and then re-elected in 2018. Mark was previously Professor of Land Economy and Director of the Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research at the University of Aberdeen, a Commissioner with the Commission for Rural Communities from 2005-2013 and a member of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission. He is an expert on social exclusion in rural areas, rural housing, rural development, agricultural change and rural policy, and is the author of several books on rural housing and on rural disadvantage. Mark has coordinated numerous EU research projects and was awarded the OBE in 2009 for services to rural development and to crofting. Mark is also a Trustee of the Carnegie UK Trust.

Doff Pollard

Doff Pollard

Doff Pollard was elected onto the ACRE board in November 2015. Doff's knowledge and experience of the ACRE Network stems from her previous roles as an arts development officer in Devon, a senior rural officer and part time village halls advisor in Cleveland, and latterly as chief executive of Tees Valley RCC, where she retired in 2015. During her time at TVRCC Doff was also on the Broadband Reference Group, convenor and contact for Defra and the Tees Valley Network (RFN). Doff has become involved in health issues locally to her in Whitby and is a governor of the Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust.

Dominic Driver

Dominic Driver

Dom was appointed to the ACRE board in March 2016. He is married with three kids and lives in a small town in rural Gloucestershire. After some time teaching he became a forester via a masters in environmental management. He worked for charities; the Forestry Commission in Wales, Scotland and England where he was Head of Policy and Strategy; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and is now Head of Natural Heritage at National Trust for Scotland.

Janet Thornton

Janet Thornton

Janet was elected to the ACRE Board in November 2016 and she is an experienced ACRE Network Trustee, having previously served six years on the ACRE board, twelve years on the board of Rural Action Yorkshire and two years on the board of Community First Yorkshire, of which she is currently Vice Chair. Janet is Vice Chair of the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network and represents them on the Leeds City Region and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) committees. She also represents the Rural & Farming Network on the ESIF Growth Programme Board and the RDPE External Working Group. Previous trustee/committee roles respectively have included six years involvement with Involve Yorkshire & Humber, a VCS infrastructure organisation and five years with Guinness Northern Counties housing association. She has lived in the same village for over 30 years and throughout that time has been actively involved in local community organisations and initiatives at grass roots level, including serving 13 years as a parish councillor.

Ivan Annibal

Ivan Annibal

Ivan was co-opted to the ACRE board in February 2017. He is Managing Director of Rose Regeneration, the company he developed 10 years ago following 20 years in public service in the East Midlands. During an extensive career working at a UK wide level, with a particular interest in rural and coastal settlements, he has created a number of ongoing legacies including the groundwork to develop both Urban Challenge, the CVS in Greater Lincoln, and the nationally focused Coastal Communities Alliance. Ivan writes 'Hinterland', a weekly review of key news items for the Rural Services Network, and organises their annual seminar programme. He is chair of trustees at Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire, a Senior Visiting Fellow at Lincoln International Business School and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal 'Local Economy'. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Louise Beaton

Louise Beaton

Louise was co-opted to the ACRE board in February 2017. She is an independent Community Buildings Consultant who has worked with the ACRE Network for 37 years. Previously she was Community Buildings Adviser for AirS and consultant for the ACRE Network, writing publications, contributing to consultations and draft legislation, carrying out research and evaluations of Big Lottery Funded projects. Louise was ACRE's Village Halls Adviser prior to Deborah Clarke, when as Secretary to the National Village Halls Forum she led the successful campaign for 0% VAT on new halls, ran Network training for village hall advisers, contributed to charity legislation, helped establish the Norfolk Association of Village Halls and Norfolk RCC (now Community Action Norfolk), and served as a trustee of CDA Hertfordshire and Acting Director of Dorset Community Action. Louise lives in Aldingbourne, West Sussex, where she is a member of the local Neighbourhood Plan Team, Village Hall Trust and Community Land Trust.

Charles Coats

Charles Coats

Charles was elected to the ACRE board in November 2017. He is from a farming background and retains an involvement in a family farming business. Charles has a BSC Hons Degree in Rural Estate Management from Reading University. He is a Fellow, recently retired, of the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) with over 42 years professional experience in the management of property, mainly in the public sector. He has been a parish councillor since 2014 and has responsibility for coordinating planning related issues, including leading on the successful adoption of a Neighbourhood Development Plan. Charles is currently Chair of Gloucestershire Rural Community Council.

Elaine Cook

Elaine Cook

Elaine was elected to the ACRE board in November 2018. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over thirty years. In 2011 she moved to Devon and took up the post of Chief Executive for ACRE Network member Devon Communities Together. Having lived in rural communities for most of her life, she is only too aware of the issues that face many of Devon’s rural residents and firmly believes that with the right support communities can come up with their own solutions to meet local needs. She has a particular interest in healthy communities, her career has included setting up, and supporting voluntary organisations working with; pre-school children and their families, Carers, the victims of domestic violence and the learning disabled. She is an experienced charity trustee having served on the Boards of both large and small charities including the Connexions Service, Crossroads Care, Mencap and the Community Council of Berkshire. She has worked alongside colleagues in both the public and voluntary sector and has held seats on a range of statutory bodies and boards.

Sue Dovey

Sue Dovey

Sue was elected to the ACRE board in November 2018. She is currently the CEO of ACRE Network member Action Hampshire. Having previously worked for two different ACRE Network members, Sue has 15 years experience of working with rural communities, she is supportive of and committed to the national work of ACRE and the local work of its members. Sue has been a trustee/director of local, regional and national not-for-profit organisations. She understands the requirements of good governance, based on the Nolan principles, and believes that good governance is vital for all organisations, but especially for those in the not-for-profit sector. Good governance, in turn, requires good team work, honest self-assessment and keeping up to date with strategic and regulatory requirements. As someone who has run a School for Social Entrepreneurs for nine years, she understands the need to think and act creatively and to be open to entrepreneurial ideas. She is currently Chair of the Lighthouse Learning Multi Academy Trust and a Director of Kool Kompany, a Fairtrade and ethical school uniform supplier.

Nigel Curry

Nigel Curry

Prof.

Nigel was elected to the ACRE board in November 2018. His career has been concerned with UK and international rural development issues. As an academic he founded and developed the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural University from 1986 to 2012. Nigel's particular interests lie in sustainable development, the rural economy, rural social structure and rural community empowerment. He has held many positions in public service including: Secretary of State appointment to Dartmoor National Park Authority, Trustee; Gloucestershire Rural Community Council, Trustee; Gloucestershire Development Agency Member, Rural Economic Advisory Panel; South West Regional Development Agency, Rural Research Priorities Board; South West Rural Enterprise Gateway Steering Group Member; Gloucestershire Land for People (a community land trust), Non-executive Director; Stroud Community Farm, Non-executive Director; Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, Governor; South West Rural Affairs Forum, Board member and Government Office of the South West’s Rural Advisory Panel member. Nigel currently serves on the following bodies: Trustee, ACRE Network member Community Lincs; Chair, Good Food East Midlands Regional Food Board; Chair, Lincoln City Food Partnership; Member, NHS/PHE Midlands Sustainability Network; Member, Mint Lane Café CIC Board of Directors; Trustee, Dharmakaya Trust (promote Tibetan Buddhism and Support Tibetan Refugees); Member, Community Asset Plus Board of Directors; Member, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership Company.

Jim Webster

Jim Webster

Jim Webster was elected to the ACRE board in November 2018. He has lived and farmed in the far south of rural Cumbria all his life. In the 1970s he was involved in the voluntary management of the YHA, on regional and national councils. From the 1980s Jim has been heavily involved with the CLA, at county and national level. After FMD he was asked if he would act as the CLA’s National Livestock Adviser and as an NLA, he was a self-employed contractor for ten years dealing with Defra, FSA, RPA, and Trading Standards at all levels, on a very regular basis. He has represented the CLA at a county level in a number of areas: the local Police Liaison committee and the NW Flood Defence advisory committee, among others. After FMD he joined the Farm Crisis Network as a volunteer, taking on mainly casework, helping farmers cope with stress and mental health issues. Jim has a deep commitment to Rural people and became a trustee of ACTion with Communities in Cumbria, the ACRE Network member for Cumbria in 2014 and is Chair of Trussell Trust Foodbank.