I studied Biology at Liverpool University, graduating from the UK’s first Environmental Biology degree course when it was introduced just in time for my final year.
Environmental jobs were few and far between at that time so I joined the accounts team of the UK arm of a large American life assurance company, and later, in my mid-twenties, joined a company offering trading services to UK charities. When I progressed to become marketing director, I was involved with organising trading campaigns on behalf of most of the UK’s leading charities including the National Trust, Cancer Research UK, BHF, RSPB and NSPCC.
During this time I had a two-year secondment to the Australian arm of the business working with Australian charities, subsequently returning (now with a Welsh wife) to the UK business.
In 2011, I joined Suttons Seeds as marketing director and in 2014 a colleague and I organised a management buyout of the business from our French owners, Limagrain at which point I became Managing Director. We took on a business making substantial losses and returned it to profit, while also acquiring a number of other horticulture and direct marketing related businesses.
One of these, The Organic Gardening Catalogue, was being run at a loss by Chase Organics. As part of the Suttons Group, the OGC was returned to profit while continuing to make donations and trading contributions to the trading arm of Garden Organic.
During my tenure, the plant growing team, with the assistance of Garden Organic, successfully switched Sutton's own plant production to be 100% peat free according to organic principles. We sold the Suttons Group in 2020 although retaining a limited number of the assets including the National Bee Supplies business based in Okehampton Devon, which had been acquired three years previously. This year we expect the business to be operated on a carbon negative basis.
Having retired from Suttons, I'm now able to concentrate on planting trees, digging ponds and converting 10 acres of ‘improved' pasture to wildlife meadow. I am currently planning my new vegetable garden including a large, experimental, earth-sheltered greenhouse.