The Guild continues to attract new members with its programme of activities and awards – among the latest recruits are staff journalists on regional newspapers and a marketing specialist at a seed company.
Peter Hall is farming editor of Western Morning News, the Westcountry newspaper covering Devon and Cornwall and decided to join after winning the runner-up slot in the Guild’s open Stuart Seaton award for regional agricultural journalism.
Married with twin sons aged 29, Peter lives on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and joined the WMN in 2000 to follow his predecessor, the late Carol Trewin.
“Having taken by NCTJ proficiency exam in 1971, I worked in news in London, Leicester and Northampton – latterly running magazines – before returning to Cornwall to buy a small farming estate with holiday-let cottages in 1997,” says Peter. “There, I freelanced for local weeklies before being recruited to the WMN.”
He lists his interests as: “Hunting, flat racing, surfing, reading history – and expanding my late father’s wonderful collection of very old toy soldiers!” Peter is an associate of Royal Agricultural Societies.
Belfast-based agricultural photo journalist Chris McCullough joined the Guild to further develop his career and extensive network of contacts.
The reporter with influential agri-title FarmWeek – a newspaper circulated throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – has been in journalism for almost 10 years now, working freelance for the first eight.
“After graduating from agricultural college I took a job as an agricultural salesman selling almost anything a farmer could need – from tractors to semen,” says Chris. “While in this job I was writing press releases and advertisements, and that injected me with the passion to become a journalist.”
Living for almost two years in Australia and South Africa gave Chris a taste for travel – as well as varied employment.
“I spent three months in Australia picking melons and pumpkins in over 30 degrees C, but probably the best job I ever had was driving a garbage truck on Australia’s South Molle Island,” he says.
His writing career began with a column in the Farm Trader newspaper, which developed into contributing as a freelance reporter for the same title, as well as reporting for other daily and weekly newspapers, and monthly magazines, mostly agricultural related.
“I now cover the main headline news for FarmWeek and look after the rural youth and machinery sections within the newspaper,” says Chris. “I’ve done investigative reporting from Ukraine, Moldova and Uganda in Africa, and other assignments have involved extensive travel throughout USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and most countries in Europe.
“I often attend machinery launches across the world, as well as some EU political press briefings held in Brussels and other parts of Europe. I’m passionate about journalism and always endeavour to bring the very latest news to the readers each week.”
Chris may be enjoying his career in journalism but he also finds time for interests that include collecting model tractors and mountain biking, venturing out three times a week.
The manager of the Elsoms Seeds sugar beet and oilseed portfolio, Ian Munnery, has joined the Guild as a Friend, having worked in the agricultural industry for 20 years.
Following a degree course in Botany & Microbiology at University of London and a post-graduate diploma in crop protection at Harper Adams, Ian cut his commercial teeth with Fishers, trading seeds and grain on farms in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
“After five years, I moved to the United Oilseeds co-operative, which brought me into contact with fellow Guild members as the commercial manager writing and editing our Growing Oilseeds publication,” says Ian. “I was also actively involved in contracts for pools, non-food crops and for the first oilseed producing high oleic/low linolenic oil, which was recognised with an HGCA Enterprise Award.”
Since 2008, Ian has been based in Spalding with Elsoms and he is a member of the BBRO Sugar Beet Recommended List committee, as well as the IIRB – International Institute for Beet Research.
“With more than 160 years in the seed industry, Elsoms is arguably one of the oldest seed companies in the UK,” notes Ian. “We have a substantial trial programme for the breeders SESVanderHave and Strube, whose varieties account for over 30% of the UK market, and the recent formation of a joint oilseed programme with Florimond Desprez and SW Lantmannen will ensure Elsoms has some exciting opportunities ahead in oilseeds too!
Ian sees technical innovations accelerating within the plant breeding industry – and with a diverse portfolio of vegetables and arable crops, investment in trials and research, and state of the art processing facilities, he believes Elsoms’ 70+ employees are well placed to make a significant contribution.