Philippa Spackman has become a Member of the Guild as communications manager for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI). Previously, she worked as the farming charity’s regional manager for Devon and Cornwall.
“I’m now based in Oxfordshire, having returned to the county where I began my journalistic career with the Banbury Guardian newspaper before working for the Royal Agricultural Society of England at Stoneleigh,” she says. “I have more than 20 years’ experience in various roles in journalism and the voluntary sector, having also worked for organisations such as the National Federation of Victim Support Schemes and the National Trust; prior to joining RABI, I was editor the Truro edition of the West Briton newspaper in Cornwall.”
Philippa was brought up in Cheshire, went to school in Manchester and read English at university in Durham and Newcastle. Today, she enjoys dog-walking, gardening, and travel when time permits.
“It’s a few generations since my family farmed, so agriculture may seem an unlikely area of work,” she says. “But it’s one I love and care passionately about!
“RABI has been around for more than 150 years, but our work with farming families in financial difficulty could not be more relevant today,” adds Philippa. “In four weeks in April, we received as many calls to our confidential helpline from people in difficulty as we did in the first four months of last year.
“The weather of 2012 and 2013 has shown how difficult it is for many farmers to make a living; so far this year we have paid out more than three-quarters of the total amount given in emergency payments to people who called our confidential helpline in the whole of 2012.
“What’s more we anticipate that demand for help will increase further in the second half of this year, when farmers have less to sell as a result of dramatic reductions in crop yields and the number of livestock coming to market,” Philippa adds.
“Thankfully, there are many positives too – not only the inspirational stories of people whose lives we have helped to turn around, but also the sense of purpose that comes with being part of such a tremendous industry.”
Communications is a vital part of RABI’s work, Philippa emphasises. First, to raise awareness of the help that the organisation can give, but also the need for funds to ensure that support is available when people need it most.
Note: Contact details for all new Members and Friends of the Guild can be found by using the website search facility to locate records in the eAlert Archive.