Scottish Rural Action
Scottish Rural Action aims to be a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland.
We are a non-profit, apolitical organisation which is completely independent of Government.
We are a company formed with the dual purpose of developing and organising Scotland’s Rural Parliament and supporting the development of a rural movement. Our members elect our board of directors each year.
The objects of Scottish Rural Action are:
- To encourage and actively support the development of an inclusive and sustainable Scottish rural movement that is rooted in Scotland’s rural communities and empowers and connects them.
- To support the organisation of a Scottish Rural Parliament that meets with the purpose of giving a stronger, more coherent voice to Scotland’s rural communities and enabling them to engage more effectively with government at all levels.
- To support and promote the development of a Scottish rural movement and Parliament.
The creation of a Rural Parliament is a unique opportunity to enable a stronger, more coherent voice for Scotland’s rural communities. It is inspired by the successes of Rural Parliaments in other countries in Europe.
A successful Scottish Rural Parliament must be firmly rooted in Scotland’s rural communities, developed by and for the people who live and work in rural Scotland. We are supported, but independent of, Scottish Government.
Download our Memorandum of Association.
Approved Minutes of our AGM 6 March 2015.
Approved Minutes of our AGM 4 March 2016.
Draft Minutes of our AGM 9 December 2016.
What is a Rural Parliament?
A ‘Rural Parliament’ is an event which takes place every two years. It is not a formal part of government, nor is it a parliament in the sense of a legislative or decision-making body. It is a ‘bottom-up’ process of involvement and debate between the people of rural Scotland and policy makers to enable better understanding, improved policy and action to address rural issues.
Who SRA are
The Directors of Scottish Rural Action are elected by the membership each year to govern the organisation. They have a range of backgrounds and interests and our current board live as far apart as Dumfries & Galloway and Shetland!
– Amanda lives in the southernmost part of South Lanarkshire, in the Lowther Hills. She’s a member of the Lanarkshire LEADER Local Action Group and is Treasurer/Director at Wiston Lodge, a charity that supports children and young people. Amanda is passionate about rural affairs and the need for vibrant, sustainable rural communities, and is active in local broadband initiatives as well as local democracy and land reform. Amanda was involved in the first workshop in Edinburgh that sought ideas from others in the European Rural Movement and has attended both Scottish Rural Parliaments since, becoming Chair of Scottish Rural Action in February 2016.
– Sandy was born and brought up on Mull, trained as a boatbuilder and has worked in boatyards in Scotland and the South of England. He and his wife re-opened a successful village store and Post Office on Mull, which they ran for 25 years before selling in 2011. Heavily involved in community development for many years, he is convenor of Mull and Iona Development Trust, which has 15 employees and is chair of Development Trust Association Scotland, which now has 200 members. Sandy is also a director of the Scottish Islands Federation and a member of many local groups on Mull.
Sandy is the “Transport” Working Group Chair for Scottish Rural Action
– Vanessa has worked in rural community development in Scotland for over 25 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum, the first community based rural movement in Scotland, and worked for Rural Forum Scotland. She managed the EU funded (£750k) Duthchas initiative on sustainability of peripheral communities, the Moray Firth Partnership and the Rural Transfer Network – sharing policy and practice in rural development across the Nordic region and Scotland. She was rural development policy officer in SNH. For 7 years a community councillor and Highland rep. on the ASCC, she continues to be active locally as a director of 2 community development organisations and Chair of Highland Environmental Network. Her research on the rural movements of Europe lead in 2004 to the formation of the European Rural Community Alliance, of which she is a director, also to initiatives to promote a rural movement in Scotland and the first European Rural Parliament. Since 2011 she has worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to advise and develop the Scottish Rural Parliament.
– Rebecca is the Communications & Rural Affairs Manager for the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs (SAYFC). Scotland’s largest rural youth movement represents over 3500 members between 14 and 30 years of age and is member-led. Through her role she works to engage with stakeholder groups so young people have the opportunity to have their voice heard. This is through a range of streams such as committees, media/publicity coverage (on and offline) and knowledge transfer events. Additionally she is Scotland’s Open Farm Sunday Coordinator which is about raising awareness of food and farming through connecting the consumers with those producing our food; and sits on the judging panel for Lantras Landbased and Aquaculture Awards. She has a first honours degree in Events Management and prior to her role with SAYFC has worked on food and drink festivals, flower and gardening festivals and international conferences and meetings. She moved to Kinross-Shire in 2013 with her family where they run a livestock (beef cattle and sheep) farm . Prior to this she was living in England where she jointly ran the on-farm family retail business that incorporated a farm shop, butchery, deli, tearooms and educational centre. The calendar included regular events to raise money and awareness for local community and charity groups, something which she has continued in Scotland.
– Alison Macleod was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to Applecross, Wester Ross after graduating from Edinburgh University in 1983 and has lived there since. As well as bringing up a family of four sons, she has worked on a creel fishing boat, as a home-help, nursery auxiliary, barmaid and as an administrator on a submarine noise ranging base (she is not proud of that one but employment choices are very limited in remote rural areas). In 2006 she started working in community development, at first on Raasay, and in 2008 as a volunteer founder director of Applecross Community Company. Since 2011 she has been the local development officer for the Community Company, which owns and manages the local filling station, has installed a community broadband scheme and developed a recently completed hydro scheme, funded by selling shares through a Community Benefit Society.
Gordon was born in Perth and now lives in the very rural south-western Scottish Borders. Recently retired, for many years he has been heavily involved in the Ettrick and Yarrow communities as the Chair of the Community Council and Director of their Development Company. He knows that 21st century communications are essential to ensure sustainable rural communities and has previously applied for and managed a LEADER rural broadband improvement project in Ettrick. He is now a Project Board member for a large community broadband project in South Scotland and a very active member of the Borders LEADER LAG for the 2014-2020 period. Gordon is fully committed to supporting rural life, rural communities and the rural economy.
Anne lives in Mintlaw in the heart of rural Buchan in Aberdeenshire. She was brought up in Bannockburn, Stirlingshire and graduated from the University of Stirling in 1972. Her early career was at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen where she undertook research for her Ph.D. then a post-doctoral fellowship. She became interested in youth and community work in her twenties firstly as a volunteer and later as a paid part-time youth worker. This resulted in a change in career direction. She qualified as a Youth & Community worker in 1982 after a course at Northern College in Aberdeen. Since then she has worked in Community Learning, Community Development, and Education in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. From 1998 until 2002 she was an Education Officer in the Buchan Area. In July 2002, she became Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Learning Manager. She took early retirement from this post in June 2011. In 2012 she got a wee bit bored with retirement and took a part-time Development Worker post with The Garioch Partnership, supporting community groups in and around Inverurie. She did this for four years until July 2016. Anne is currently vice-chair of Mintlaw & District Community Council, treasurer of the Buchan Development Partnership, chairperson of the Book of Deer Project. She is a Board member of the North-East Scotland College and of Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action, and a member of YouthLink Scotland, the national youth work agency. She is also a member of Mintlaw 50+Walkers, Mintlaw Rural, and the Mintlaw gala committee. Anne remains as passionate about lifelong learning, empowered communities, youth work and young people now as she did in her twenties. She likes being busy!
Simon Brooke was born in London. He came to Scotland at the age of eight, and to Auchencairn in Galloway (where he still lives) at age eleven. He is a software engineer and entrepreneur who has led a number of small software start-ups. He was a founder trustee of Southwest Community Woodlands Trust, and has served on the board of Auchencairn Initiative. He has suffered from severe mental illness since childhood.
Simon has a long-standing interest in the remote rural economy, in issues of land ownership and use, and in particular in rural poverty and homelessness.
Dr Stephen Bird is a rural Scot both circumstance and by choice. He studied medicine at St Andrews and then served a short service medical commission with the Royal Navy where he was attached to the Royal Marines in Arbroath. After training as a GP in Tayside, he practiced in Fraserburgh, Arbroath and later throughout Tayside and Fife. He now works as a single handed GP on the Isle of South Uist (Outer Hebrides). He is married to Fiona for over thirty years, and they have 6 children-mostly boys. Stephen also spends time in Angus where he is committed to a rural Kirk and in season, when the weather permits, enjoys skiing at Glenshee.
Mary Williams Edgar
Mary lives in the Braes of Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park. She is a director of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust and a board member for the Landscape Partnership tasked with delivering 3.6 million GBP worth of rural regeneration projects across the area. Her career has diversely veered from media work as a television programme director to sheep farming and running a guest house, with periodic but enthusiastic pauses to restore rural buildings. She has also founded an internet based company to provide well-paid, innovative work for rural women with caring responsibilities, now continuing this interest with a current project (Women on Large Forestry Machines) in partnership with the Scottish Forestry Contractors Association set to address a recognised skills shortage by providing training, skills development and career progression for women in the rural workplace. Mary is a longstanding lay member of the Employment Tribunal panel in Scotland.
Lee is originally from Angus and studied at both Dundee and Aberdeen University’s before getting into work. Starting out for a new Development Trust in Midlothian, Lee moved into the public sector, working for Angus Council for 7 years and has worked for the Cairngorms National Park Authority since 2013. Lee has an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and has been able to use the knowledge gained throughout his working career, supplemented with experience of a variety of rural community development issues. Through Lee’s work, CNPA have been a strong supporter of Scottish Rural Action and the Rural Parliament, having been involved in all of the events so far. Lee splits his time between Carr-Bridge in Strathspey and Carnoustie in Angus.
Past Directors: thank you for all your hard work and support
Gordon Methven was a police officer for twenty five years serving initially in Aberdeen before moving to Elgin where he was Road Safety Officer for Moray and North Aberdeenshire in the 1990’s. From 2003 till his retirement in 2010 he was a police community officer in Elgin and Fochabers where he was successful in coming up with several problem solving initiatives that reduced anti social behaviour. He lives in Bishopmill, Elgin in Moray and since 2010 has represented North Elgin on the Community Council where he is the secretary. He also represents Elgin Community Council on the Joint Community Councils of Moray and is their rep for Scottish Rural Action. Gordon is passionate about improving the daily lives of the community in Moray and the north east and came up with the idea for the Moray Community Awards, which recognizes those who go above and beyond for the community and sits on their steering committee. Gordon was on the advisory forum for the Rural Parliament and was delighted to attend the first Scottish Rural Parliament in Oban in 2014.
Kris Chapman is the Volunteer & Membership Development Officer for YouthBorders, a children and young persons charity based in the Scottish Borders. YouthBorders is the network of third sector youth organisations in the Scottish Borders representing over 3,500 young people. Their membership includes youth clubs, youth cafes, specialist projects, after school clubs and voluntary groups.
Kris’s role is to help support and develop youth organisations, tailored to their local needs. He provides bespoke one-to-one support, meeting each member at their premises, gaining a first-hand understanding of the services provided. He is therefore able to help develop training programmes, identify funding streams, and suppor their strategic development as youth organisation. Alongside this, Kris supports youth clubs, develop their volunteer recruitment strategies and induction programmes to ensure volunteers gain the best experience possible whilst at the youth organisation.
– Maggie and her husband and work a small upland farm in Dumfries and Galloway with traditional Galloway cattle, Blackie sheep, two sows and a flock of laying hens. Thinnings from farm woodlands they planted 20 years ago are used for a biomass boiler. There are, of course, many good things to enjoy in life in rural D and G. However, despite sitting at a major junction on the mighty A75 Euro route to Ireland, equidistant from both Dumfries and Castle Douglas, Crocketford still falls into the bottom 5% of communities in rural Scotland with least access to services.In addition to being a member of Crocketford Community Initiative, Maggie is involved with Dumfries and Galloway LEADER and SRUC’s Rural Development Consultative Committee. By becoming involved with Scottish Rural Action, Maggie hopes that she can contribute to a body where all voices from every part of rural Scotland can be heard equally and effectively.
– Niall has been active in his local community development for many years based in Caithness an area far from centres of influence, and whose voice has no significant natural outlet. Niall is currently chair of Wick Community Council, The North Highland College UHI, the Laurandy Day care Centre for the elderly, Caithness Childcare, No Limits Caithness offering services to children on the autism spectrum, and vice-chair of Home-Start Caithness. He is also on the boards of Latheron, Lybster, Clyth Community Development Company, Rumster Energy Ltd and secretary to the Caithness Village Hall Federation. During his day job he is a development officer for Caithness Voluntary Group which gives advice and support to community and voluntary groups, and provides the Caithness Rural Transport services and Befriending Caithness for isolated elderly people. Niall also gives advice and training on governance.
Emma Cooper, National Coordinator
– Emma has been the Coordinator of the Scottish Rural Parliament since 2014. She has held senior management posts in the third sector for over ten years. Her specific interests are in land, health, education, democracy and economics. She is a resident on the Isle of Bute in Argyll where her partner runs a small business. Emma has a (very) smallholding and is actively involved in a number of local projects, including Rothesay Pavilion, ButeFest and Bute Community Land Company of which she is chair. Emma has a BSc in Applied Psychology and a Master in Public Administration and is a member of ACOSVO.
Francesca Harding, Administrator
– Francesca has been the Administrator of Scottish Rural Action since October 2014 and previously organised our local events. She has lived in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute for the last 8 years after moving from Yorkshire and now has a young son who has a passion for dinosaurs. Francesca is also involved in ButeFest a local music festival and is currently studying towards a BA (Honours) Business Management and Accounting degree.
Chris Kinloch, Admin & Press Officer
Chris joined Scottish Rural Parliament in July 2016 as Press & Admin Officer. He has lived on Bute for 25 out of 27 years, and is involved with lots of community work, with organisations on the Isle of Bute such as Tee In The Port, Light Up Bute, Port Gala Day and also Bute’s own local radio station, Bute Island Radio, where he is Technical Director and presents his own show on a Thursday. This year, Chris was involved with Butefest, and performed on 2 days at the event. In his spare time, he enjoys football, going to gigs and festivals, and spending time with family and friends.
Fiona Thompson, Volunteering & Campaigns Coordinator
Fiona joined the Scottish Rural Action team in February 2017. Fiona has been working in the field of community development for over ten years; with particular focus on adult learning, mental health campaigning and service delivery across Scotland but with particular focus on the Highlands and Islands. Fiona is a resident of Lochaber and has a keen interest in hill running and open water swimming when time allows a break from two small children.