British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - December 2014

Wishing all Members & Friends a Happy Christmas and Good Fortune in 2015

Guild council recruiting

Several members of the Guild’s management Council will step down at the annual meeting in March – either voluntarily or because Guild rules require them to – so there is an opportunity for fresh faces with fresh ideas to take their places around the meeting table at The Farmers Club.

"Although the idea of being on a committee doesn't appeal to everyone, a great sense of camaraderie and achievement comes from representing our members on Council and helping the Guild flourish," says chairman Jane Craigie. "From contributing to discussions on how to develop the Guild to being actively involved in helping set up and run events, members of Council choose the level of commitment they feel comfortable with."

Visit the Council website page to see who represents the membership on Council today.

Guild rules require that Peter Hill (member communications) and Liz Snaith (membership recruitment) step down as directors and leave Council at the AGM in March next year; they may not stand for re-election by Members until the AGM in 2016. Tim Price is also stepping down and is in the process of handing over his duties to treasurer-designate Simon Haley.

Louise Impey (awards) and Julie Mate (training and professional development) are candidates for re-election for a further two-year term, as are Jane Craigie (who completes her stint as chairman in March) and Howard Venters (vice-chairman).

Eight places on the 11-person Council will therefore be vacant with four existing members of Council willing to stand again. There will be an online vote for Members if at least another five candidates put their names forward.

Any Member who would like to consider standing for election to represent the membership and get involved with managing our flourishing Guild can find out more by contacting Jane Craigie. Formal nominations, supported by two Members of the Guild, must be received by the secretary at least 28 days (ie February 13) before the annual meeting on March 13.

The new Council may co-opt Members to fill any vacant places remaining after the elections.

Subscriptions - switching accounts

Members who change bank accounts - please do not cancel your direct debit instruction! Instead, notify Guild secretary Nikki Robertson of the new account details (name, number and sort code) so that the change-over can be made using the Guild's new SmartDebit online system without having to complete a new direct debit mandate.

Subscriptions - new rates for 2015

In line with the annual inflation-linked subscriptions review policy, the rates from February 2015 will be £72 (up from £70) for Members and Friends of the Guild and £36 (up from £35) for Retired Members. All members will be contacted in due course through the SmartDebit system to confirm when their subscription will be collected.

Any Members wishing to switch to Retired Member status (thereby losing voting and competition entry rights but retaining all other benefits of membership) should apply by email or letter to the secretary, Nikki Robertson.

More CPD training planned

A further programme of training and professional development workshops is being put in place for the next two years based on an invaluable survey of the Guild membership into needs and preferences.

"The workshops on photography, social media and writing skills were very well attended and we received excellent feedback as to their value," says Julie Mate, CPD secretary on the Guild management Council. "We're now putting in place another series of events for 2015 and beyond, based on what members tell us they want."

Features writing, strategic PR and management, crisis and issues management, social media and pitching stories to editors are among the topics. A news writing workshop kicks off the programme on Thursday, January 22 (deadline for bookings January 16), followed by a media law workshop on Thursday, February 5 (bookings deadline January 30).

Click on the links for full details. Both workshops will be held at AGCO's Abbey Park offices, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire and cost just £95, including lunch and refreshments. Monitor the Diary Dates column on the Guild website home page and watch for eAlerts announcing future workshops, including one on video production for the web scheduled for April.

Jobs & Recruitment

Vacant positions are mentioned in Guild eAlerts as a service to members but a recruitment advertising service is also available to organisations that wish to put full details about a post in front of the Guild's 450+ members involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website here.

The National Sheep Association needs to appoint a communications officer to work alongside Guild member Jo Briggs who manages PR and member communications at the Malvern-based organisation.

Monthly magazine Farm Contractor & Large Scale Farmer wants a full-time journalist to write on machinery and mechanisation topics primarily, noting that practical experience driving tractors would be beneficial. The ACP Publishers office is located near Kineton, Warwickshire.

The HGCA is looking for a communications executive to help deliver useful information to arable crop growers emanating from trials and other sources. The post is based at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

Further details of all posts are available on the Guild website here.

Year Book updates

Update the Guild Year Book with the new job, location and contact details noted here, as well as any new Member and Friend listings below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archivesection of the Guild website. Remember to send change of job, address, telephone or email details to Guild secretary Nikki Robertson.

Publication of the 2014/15 Year Book has been deferred but Members and Friends should continue to notify the Guild secretary of any changes (eg home or business address, telephone numbers and email address) needed for the next edition.

Marcus Battong, a Friend of the Guild, has moved from Elsoms Seeds.

John Bolt, former PR specialist with BHR Communications, has moved home within Paris. He is now at 10 rue de l’Aude, Paris 75014. John also has a new mobile number 07597 323091 but his emailaddress is unchanged.

Simon Hayley, rural business and social media consultant, has moved to: 8 Mill Close, Inskip, Preston, Lancs PR4 0TW. Contact details are unaffected.

Jill Hewitt, former chief executive of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, has set up her own consultancy specialising in corporate communications and project management for agricultural and rural businesses. Springtime Consultancy is based at Tallington near Stamford, Lincs and Jill can be contacted by phone (07889 511245) or email.

Chris McCullough has parted company with Northern Ireland newspaper FarmWeek after 13 years' reporting all aspects of agriculture from machinery and other technical topics to business, politics and general news. He has also reported extensively from overseas, notably from IFAJ Congresses and from Africa through the IFAJ/Agriterra Exposure-4-Development media tours. In the short-term, he is freelancing, offering journalism, photography and PR services to newspapers, magazines, companies while seeing what full-time opportunities arise. Chris can be reached by emailand phone: 07732 486481. He is on Facebook (Chris McCullough) and @journo_chris is his Twitter account.

Sarah Peacocke has moved from Haymarket Events to become a director of Pinstone Communications, The Business Plaza, Leominster Enterprise Park, Owen Way, Leominster HR6 0LA. She can be reached by email or on 01568 617620.

Catherine Paice, deputy editor of Dairy Industry Newsletter and freelancing on the rural property market, has a new email address and her mobile telephone is: 07990 595723.

Dr Ken Pollock, former BBC producer now freelancing in television and video production as Ambrose Associates, has moved home: 49 Gratton Road, Cheltenham, Glos, GL50 2BZ. He can be contacted by email or telephone: 01242 582025, mobile: 0789 979 4858.

Leo Townsend has joined Whisper PR as an account manager, specialising in arable clients but also covering other parts of the agricultural industry. He is now located at the agency's offices: 5 The Farmhouse, Fernhill Court, Balsall Street East, Balsall Common CV7 7FR. He can be reached by telephone 01608 637805, mobile 07890 963168 and email.

Rachel Queenborough has moved her RQB agency from Shropshire to Worcestershire:  RQB Ltd, Wyche Innovation Centre, Walwyn Road, Upper Colwall, Malvern, WR13 6PL. There is also a new telephone number (01684 899119) but Rachel’s mobile (07779 277668) and email address continue unchanged.

Emily White, who set up Silver Birch Communications in Newport, Shropshire earlier this year, has married and taken her husband’s surname to become Emily Pugh. She produces content for websites, newsletters, brochures, emails, press releases and feature articles, specialising in business-to-business communications in agriculture, rural affairs, marketing and information technologys. She can be contacted by mobile 07877 488968 or her email address.

Izzy Whittaker has moved from breed society Holstein UK to the magazine Holstein International, which is published in The Netherlands for Holstein dairymen and breeders. Izzy is based in Shropshire and can be contacted on telephone 01948 258649, mobile 07799 407125 or by email.

New Members and Friends

Members who would like to invite colleagues and industry contacts to consider joining the Guild can direct them to the Membership Benefits website page here, where a PDF leaflet is available to download. Anyone involved in agriculture who would like to establish or maintain links with the Guild and its Members can become a Friend to receive eAlerts, attend events and be listed in the Year Book.

The Guild welcomes the following new Members....

Diane Hemming, Account Executive, Pinstone Communications Ltd, Unit 3 The Business Plaza, Leominster HR6 0LA. Tel: 01568 617620 Mobile: 07841 699754 Email:

Rosie Hopkins, Account Executive, Pinstone Communications Ltd, Unit 3 The Business Plaza, Leominster HR6 0LA. Tel: 01568 617629 Email:

Barbara Huddart, Glendale PR, The Cheviot Centre, Wooler, Northumberland NE71 6BL. Tel: 01668 283044 Mobile: 07980 850394 Email:

James Marshall, Account Executive, Reverberate PR Ltd, Halfstone, Smeatharpe, Honiton, Devon EX14 9RF. Tel: 01823 602806 Mobile: 07775 424104 Email:

Rebecca Veale, Technical Communications Officer, EBLEX, AHDB, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warkwickshire CV8 2TL. Tel: 0247 6478636. Mobile: 0777 6204453. Email:

Sophie Wilesmith, Senior Account Executive, Pinstone Communications Ltd, Unit 3 The Business Plaza, Leominster HR6 0LA. Tel: 01568 617624 Mobile: 07837 852673 Email:

....and also these new Friends of the Guild:

Ian Bell, Chief Executive, Addington Fund, 9 Barford Exchange, Barford, Warwickshire CV35 8AQ. Tel: 01926 620135 Mobile: 07909 538426 Email:

Fiona Duff, Consultancy PR, Strutt and Parker, 28 Melville Street, Edinburgh EH3 7HA Tel: 0131 2262500 Mobile: 07717 897343 Email: /

Simon Orpwood, Honorary Press Secretary, Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, Bowmont Hill, Mindrum, Northumberland TD12 4QW. Tel: 01890 850266 Mobile: 07836 513155 Email:   Christine Pedersen, Senior Dairy Business Consultant, The Dairy Group Ltd, New Agriculture House, Black Brook Park Avenue, Taunton, Somerset TA1 2PX. Mobile: 07831 172940 Email:

However, we say goodbye to.....

Long-standing members Jessica Buss (ex-Farmers Weekly livestock desk and British Grassland Society) and Michael Pollitt (former Eastern Daily Press farming editor), both of whom are no longer involved in agricultural journalism and so have stepped down from the Guild. Also Caitlin Peck who is leaving the communications officer role at the National Sheep Association and also the agricultural industry.

On the Guild website….

The Dates & Deadlines panel on the home page gives Guild event details and award application deadlines and access to the full listing of Guild activities through the year.

In News on the Guild website

Leo Townsend moves to Whisper PR

Guild photographers contribute to RABI calendar

Milly Wastie's 'once in a life time' trip Down Under

Animax's Aled Davies becomes Guild friend

Leadership changes at Farmers Weekly

Norman Lucas

Sarah Peacocke - and others - join Pinstone

Peter Bullen

Briefing Media buys business website

Chris Biddle's plaque commemorates lawn mower inventor

Rachel Lovell's Austrian outing proves a winner!

Shepherd appoints wool expert to editor's role

After 10 years in the States, dairy PR specialist Julie Scanlon is home

Guild members support Addington Fund

Peter Allen

Timely refresh for Beef Farmer magazine

FG's Take the Lead campaign up for BSME award

Guild members celebrate 80 years of Farmers Weekly

Members and guests praise Harvest Service and Lunch

Talk of biodynamic farming at Harvest Luncheon

Prize winners galore in Charitable Trust draw

Another successful 'camera off auto' workshop

BGAJ Charitable Trust...

What can the trust do for you – or someone you know?

The Guild’s Charitable Trust was set up to help Members of the Guild – of any age – and their partners and families when faced with difficulties or hardship. The Trustees offer confidential practical support and advice, and have funds available to meet short-term needs (such as urgent utility bills in times of financial difficulty) or to help enhance standards of care and treatment in times of ill health or old age.

Members of the Guild who think the trust could help – or who know of fellow Members who could benefit – should contact the chairman of Trustees, Stephen Howe – 01342 893018.

What can you do for the trust?

The financial help that Trustees can offer is determined by annual income from investments, donations and fund-raising initiatives such as the Harvest Lunch prize draw. The 200 Club is an easy and painless way to make an annual donation: shares are just £10 each and subscribers have two chances a year to win up to £250 in cash prizes.

Are you taking part in a charitable fund-raising event? If so, please consider donating some of the funds you raise to your own Charitable Trust – and be sure to let us know what you’re doing so we can encourage support from among the Guild membership.

More information on all aspects of the Charitable Trust is available on the Guild website.

Send in your news

Please send any career news, publication/website launches or redesigns, agency appointments, award wins and campaigns, etc, to website and eAlerts editor Peter Hill.


Contact the Guild secretary, Nikki Robertson, if you wish to: Apply for Retired Member status to pay the reduced subscription Apply to become a Member of the Guild as a Friend who now qualifies for membership Notify a change of bank details for the subscription Direct Debit (please do not cancel your existing Direct Debit instruction - it will be updated) Notify a change of home or work postal address, telephone numbers or email address Notify that you are resigning from the Guild


Johann Tasker

01206 263807


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