YAS Team

Chairman of Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Robert Copley

Robert Copley is the owner of Pontefract based Farmer Copleys alongside his wife, Heather. With the desire for amazing food, fantastic local produce and a warm welcome, Farmer Copleys has also showcased through its Moo Café and award-winning farm shop, how Britain and especially Yorkshire can compete with the very best the culinary world has to offer. Rob previously worked in Dorset milking 300 cows, 3 times a day, before moving to an American Breeding Service, training farmers how to inseminate cattle & classifying cattle for a computer evaluation programme. He then became a nutritionist at HST Feeds and finally working for Thompsons of York. He has several other roles having recently been appointed Chairman of the Farm Retail Association (FRA), and has a passion for championing the people and businesses who grow and sell Great British produce.

Show Director

Charles Mills

York farmer Charles Mills was appointed as Show Director of the Great Yorkshire Show and its sister event, Countryside Live in 2015.

He farms at Woolas Grange, Appleton Roebuck which is a mixed arable rotation, with a 250 ewe flock. Charles has recently launched a new business as a new rural wedding venue.

Charles has held a number of roles within the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, including Joint Chief Cattle Steward and as a member of the Society’s Council, its governing body, since 2002.

Charles has played a significant role in the educational aspect of the Society’s work, serving on its Grants and Education Committee and running arable workshops at the free Countryside Days which attract 6,000 primary school children every year. He is also a member of the management committee of the Society’s Future Farmers of Yorkshire.

Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Allister Nixon

Allister Nixon joined the YAS as CEO in June 2022, replacing Nigel Pulling. Allister is a chartered accountant and a highly experienced, successful and well-regarded business leader. Previously the Chief Operating Officer at Castle Howard Estate Ltd for six years, he worked with the Howard family to drive the historic estate forward, helping to manage its portfolio of businesses including a holiday park, retail, catering, farming and forestry. Allister also has significant and varied experience working within large multinational PLCs, and his previous positions include Global COO and CFO at Kantar Media Audiences, where he helped in the setting up of new business and services in several countries. He moved from London six years ago and now lives with his family in North Yorkshire.

Managing Director of Yorkshire Event Centre and Deputy CEO of Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Heather Parry

Heather Parry has worked for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society since 1993, initially as Marketing Manager and subsequently as Managing Director of the Yorkshire Event Centre Ltd, alongside her role as Deputy Chief Executive. Heather was the mastermind behind building the Regional Agricultural Centre and onsite farm shop café Fodder as well as the £11 million development of Hall 1 of the Yorkshire Event Centre. Heather also launched the Harrogate Caravan Park in 2014 and all profits from these businesses go to help fund the work of the YAS.   She had previously worked in Earls Court Exhibition Centre organising and marketing The Royal Smithfield Show and The Royal Tournament.

President of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Simon Theakston

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and now Joint Managing Director of T&R Theakston Ltd. Simon was also a member of Harrogate Borough Council 2002-2018. He has also been a member of YAS Executive and Trustee Board from 2001 becoming chairman in 2008, retiring in 2016; Council member of YAS from 2000 to 2018 and a Steward of the Society since 1983. Current Member of the YAS Nomination Committee and Remuneration Committee. Chairman of Pub is the Hub, launched by HRH the Prince of Wales to help maintain viability of Britain’s rural communities. Immediate past Chairman of the Yorkshire Beer and Pub Association, an organisation representing the interests of brewers and pub owners in the region. Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, Master 2019/20. Appointed Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire in 2012.

President Elect of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Martin Cockerill

Martin joined the family business, RS Cockerill York Ltd, with his father who had started it in the 1930s.

Their main activity was trading potatoes and farming began with a tenancy of a farm in 1946 near Stamford Bridge.

Around 1990 they decided to concentrate on potato marketing and started packing for retailers which has become a major part of the business. The volume of potatoes for processing into crisps also increased.

They now farm around 500 hectares and also grow a further 200 hectares of potatoes on rented land. Martin’s wife runs a suckler herd of Dexter cattle supplying grass fed beef to London restaurants.

After retiring as Managing Director in 2019, Martin now lives on a small grassland farm on the edge of the North York Moors near Scarborough.

He has been a Rotarian for many years and also involved with the Samaritans and continues to support the organisation.

YAS Council Members

Division Name Committee
North Yorkshire James Cooper Trustee
Guy Cowling
Steven Crabtree
Neil Eastham
Frederick Fairburn
Stuart Goldie
James Hopwood
Alice Liddle
Peter Molyneux Trustee, Audit and Investment
Christine Ryder Yorkshire Event Centre Board (Chair) and Charitable Activities
Michael Smith Charitable Activities and Remuneration
Christine Thompson Trustee and Charitable Activities
East Yorkshire Davina Fillingham
Ian Gilliat
Jonathan Hodgson
Fay Grace Charitable Activities (Chair)
Richard Morley
Geoff Riby
West Yorkshire Rob Copley Trustee (Chair) and Nomination
Nick Fawcett
David Green Charitable Activities
Nick Lane Fox
Tom Rawson
Bob Richmond
South Yorkshire Richard Hincliffe
Robin Metcalfe
Chloe Palmer
Co-opted Henry Chadwick Trustee
Rachel Coates
Ellie Durdy
Tim Easby
Martin Fish
Leanne Forde
Nick Grayson
Angus Gowthorpe
James Johnson
John North Trustee
Paul Russell Trustee, Audit and Investment and Remuneration
Molly Sadler
Hugh Sheddon
Bradley Sykes
Ex-officio Tim Whitaker Askham Bryan College
Bill Meredith Bishop Burton College
Harrogate Borough Council Cllr Margaret Atkinson
Cllr Victoria Oldham
North Yorkshire County Council Vacancy
Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Tim Weatherhead
Non-Council Committee Members Helen Collin Audit & Investment (Chair)
Annie Croft Charitable Activities
Tom Mellor Yorkshire Event Centre Ltd
Peter Myers Yorkshire Event Centre Ltd
Martin Redfearn Charitable Activities
Rebecca Scott Audit & Investment
Vicky Scott Charitable Activities
Simon Theakston (President)
Rob Whitehead Yorkshire Event Centre Ltd
Christy York Audit & investment

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