HDC chief executive Beckenham to leave upon levy board's move to Stoneleigh

HDC chief executive officer Martin Beckenham will leave the levy body when it moves to Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, from East Malling, Kent, this July.

All levy bodies are moving to Stoneleigh to save on administrative costs. Beckenham's position is being replaced with a horticulture director role in the new horticultural sector of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). AHDB will announce the new director "in a few weeks".

Beckenham said: "I've not decided what I'm going to do. We like where we are and decided we'd rather stay here.

"The replacement will have a more technical role because administration corporate governance services like HR, finance and legals have been centralised."

Technical manager Ruth Findlay, who left last year, previously covered these roles.

Horticulture sector chairman Neil Bragg said: "We're delighted to be embarking on the crucial staffing and restructuring phase of the horticultural sector of the AHDB. This new structure is designed to be a more efficient way of meeting the service levy payers needs and will help to improve exchange between sectors on strategic issues."

Horticulture consultant and crop protection specialist Steve Tones joins as business development manager. The new post will look at research and development-funding sources and partnerships, including overseas links and liaising with industry groups to develop projects in areas such as produce promotion and horticultural skills training.

Bragg said: "This is a key post for industry as central funding for strategic horticultural R&D continues to decline. We need to establish key alliances and linkages in a similar way that the cereals sector pulls in additional funds for its activities."

Eight staff are leaving including Beckenham's wife Jan, Lindrea Latham and communications managers Ross and Jenny Newham.


Three new crop teams have been formed:

Vegetables Consisting of the existing Field Vegetables and a new Protected Edibles panels.

Fruit Consisting of the existing Soft Fruit, Tree Fruit and Mushrooms panels.

Ornamentals Consisting of the existing Bulbs & Outdoor Flowers and Hardy Nursery Stock panels, and a new Protected Ornamentals panel.

New technical and communications managers include:

Vegetables Technical managers Cheryl Brewster (existing staff member, Yorkshire) and Rebecca Turner (existing Kirton research station trials officer). Grace Kurambwa is new communications manager.

Ornamentals New technical managers Hugh Frost and Jason Pole will both join AHDB in April. A communications manager is to be appointed.

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