Tributes to farming and environmental enthusiast

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24 May 2022
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Deceased LEAF Chief Executive described as an inspiration to growers

LEAF’s Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond, has died after a short illness.

Caroline was well-known and liked within the industry. She promoted farming through the activities of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), acting as an inspiration for the potato growers across the UK who took part in the popular and successful annual Open Farm Sunday events.

Caroline had been Chief Executive of LEAF since it started in 1991. After graduating in agriculture, she worked on farms in the UK and overseas before joining the organisation. She was awarded an MBE for services to the agricultural industry in 2009 and has a Doctor of Science honoris causa (Hon DSc) from Harper Adams University. She was a CHAP Board member, a Nuffield Scholar and Honorary Fellow for the Society of the Environment. 

LEAF Chairman Philip Wynn spoke of her colleagues sadness at her passing and paid tribute to her work.

"Caroline was an inspiration, and it is her passion, determination, foresight and energy that has transformed LEAF from its small beginnings 30 years ago to the globally recognised and respected organisation it is today," he said. 

"There really are no words to express how much Caroline will be missed within LEAF and the farming industry; but most deeply by her family, to whom we extend our greatest sympathy."

Caroline did not hail from a farming background, being the daughter of a diver. However she had worked on a range of farms in the UK and across the world when she first got involved with LEAF. At that point, she was working as an agronomy lecturer and forklift truck driver instructor at Shuttleworth Agricultural College when the opportunity of the role at LEAF came up. 

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She said in a CHAP interview: "It represented everything I fundamentally believe in, the importance of science-based farming, alongside that critical need to engage with consumers. Inspired by every farm I have worked on, I soon learned about the skills and capability of the farmers and the sheer joy of being involved with soil, nature, water and growing."

Earlier this month, when LEAF published its 10th annual Global Impacts Report, showing the role LEAF Marque certified businesses are playing in delivering more sustainable, climate positive global farming and food systems, Caroline was keen to stress that the marque is grower-led and praised tribute to all they had helped achieved.

In a Potato Review article she stated: “We are extremely proud of what our growers continue to achieve.  The impacts outlined in this report clearly show the positive improvements being made to the health of our soils and water sources, to biodiversity and landscape features, to driving the uptake of more renewable energy."

Potato Review Editor Stephanie Cornwall said she was 'deeply saddened' at the news of her passing. "I met Caroline briefly at a LEAF event and she was such an enthusiastic, lovely lady. She was obviously a huge inspiration, and so passionate about everything LEAF stood for. I’m sure everyone will really miss her and she was way too young to go," she said.

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