Future Farmers Autumn Debate

If you missed the Future Farmers of Yorkshire’s Autumn Debate, the event can now be viewed back in full in the window above.

Offering ‘Top tips for Keeping an Entrepreneurial Mindset’, the Autumn Debate was originally live streamed on Wednesday 11th November 2020.

Kindly sponsored by GSC Grays, Yorkshire Bank and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the debate features a panel of highly respected industry speakers who discuss what having an entrepreneurial mindset means.

Having enjoyed success in their own varied fields of expertise, they run through their own tips, tricks and lessons in order to inspire robust entrepreneurial approaches to farm business.

Our Speakers

Charlotte Middlebrook

Charlotte Middlebrook

Member of the Future Farmers Management Board

Charlotte joined the Future Farmers’ Management Board and chaired the Autumn Debate. A primary school teacher with a passion for inspiring the next generation about agriculture through education, Charlotte, 29, grew up on two mixed family farms near Selby where she has experienced dairy, beef, poultry and arable farming, as well as mushroom compost production and a farm holiday accommodation business.

Charlotte has participated at all levels of the National Federation of Young Farmers, experiencing Canadian agriculture on the Federation’s travel programme and gaining scholarships to the Oxford Farming and NFU Conferences. During eight years as a primary school teacher, she has organised agricultural education projects involving local farmers and bodies such as the NFU and FACE.

Hannah Senior

Hannah Senior

Managing Director of PBS International

Hannah is an entrepreneur and 2020 Nuffield Scholar. An early corporate career at Tesco.com, in strategy consulting and an MBA at Stanford were far removed from a rural lifestyle. However, after acquiring PBS International, a business which makes products for plant breeders, she realised the error of her ways: visiting her customers, despite them being all over the world, felt like “coming home” to the world of agriculture.

Hannah is now based less than 20 miles from the Ryedale village where she grew up and she is on a mission to “strip away the hype” around entrepreneurship, yet use this “powerful force” to make agriculture more profitable, productive and sustainable.

Charlotte Wells

Charlotte Wells-Thompson

Co-owner of Bert’s Barrow

Farm shop entrepreneur Charlotte and her husband Jason moved to the family farm in 2014 and the couple have transformed what was a farm retail enterprise based out of a wheelbarrow into a multiple-award-winning farm shop, Pick Your Own and events venue in Hillam near Leeds.

Charlotte, a mum of eight-year-old twin girls, has always loved the outdoors. Equine inclined, she grew up competing in eventing, studied at Warwickshire Agricultural College and worked on a racing yard, before a ten-year spell working in sales.

A keen advocate for shopping local and supporting farmer suppliers, Bert’s Barrow is part of the ‘Meet the Farmer’ section of the Great Yorkshire Show and Charlotte and Jason have even attended the Houses of Parliament to promote Yorkshire food and drink. Charlotte was voted Yorkshire Food Hero in 2018 and the shop most was recently recognised with Deliciouslyorkshire’s Lockdown Legend Business Award following the success of its drive thru farm shop during the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.

Tom Best

Tom Best

Auctioneer and Art Advisor at The Auction Collective

Tom is a professional auctioneer and art adviser specialising in artworks from 1860 onwards. A former Christie’s auctioneer, Tom has raised more than £15m in over 230 international charity auctions in 12 countries.

Tom first caught the auction ‘bug’ at 19 whilst selling fruit and veg at his local village hall. After gaining a Masters in Art History, he became one of the youngest auctioneers to take to a Christie’s rostrum, joining the prestigious auction house as a Specialist in Impressionist and Modern Art, then later Post-War and Contemporary Art.

In 2016, moved by the escalating crisis in Syria, Tom stepped away from the art world to join the humanitarian charity Start Network where, for two years, he worked as Head of Partnerships and Philanthropy, attracting six major donors and raising over £20m. In 2017, Tom founded The Auction Collective, an initiative that runs affordable auctions of contemporary art from under-represented and emerging artists.

Victoria Robertshaw

Victoria Robertshaw

Founder of Keelham Farm Shop and owner of Delicious Planet Consultancy

Victoria grew up on a hill farm outside Bradford and worked in the farm shop her father set up in the early 70s. After university, Victoria embarked on a business management career in London where she had spent 13 years in accountancy and consultancy at Arthur Andersen, in corporate strategy at Dixon Stores Group and as a director of customers with Freeserve.

Victoria returned to Yorkshire when her father passed away and with her young family to take on the running of the family farm shop with her brother James. Over the next 11 years, the Keelham Farm Shop brand was founded and developed to grow the business to two shops, an online business, a successful café concept, production bakery with peak sales of £21m and employing around 300 team members.

Keelham Farm Shop won many national and regional awards including the Green Apple Award 2019 for most sustainable retail business, and Victoria was named Everywoman Entrepreneur of the Year 2017.

At the start of this year, Victoria embarked on the next stage of her career. Having moved on from Keelham Farm Shop, she now heads up the consultancy business Delicious Planet to help other food companies benefit from her experience. Victoria also sits on the industry and government-led Retail Sector Council where she is leading on a project on the Circular Economy in retail.

Join Future Farmers

Members from the group meet throughout the year at a variety of events, workshops and industry visits. Join us to get involved and get ahead in Yorkshire’s agricultural industries.

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