Our staff team is growing, meet our community business advisers

Plunkett Foundation is a UK-wide charity with a vision for resilient, thriving and inclusive rural communities. To achieve this, we support people in rural areas to set up and run a wide range of businesses which are genuinely owned by local communities, whereby members have equal and democratic control. Today, we represent approximately 700 such ‘community businesses’ in rural areas throughout the UK, from shops and pubs through to woodlands, farms and fi­sheries.

In practical terms, our support for community businesses comes in the form of advice, training, and events and is delivered through a core team of 20 staff and a network of 50 locally based self-employed business advisers across the UK. As a membership organisation, we also represent the interests of rural community businesses through research, policy, and public affairs.

Demand for our business advice is the highest it’s ever been, and our core staff is growing. We’re thrilled to welcome our newest team members, Community Business Advisers, Nick Comley and Misty Bower. Nick and Misty job share and will work closely with our Community Business Manager, Alison Macklin. They’ll work directly with community groups to deliver advice and support to help their projects succeed; as well as delivering consultancy services Plunkett provides to community businesses and corporate partners.

If you’re setting up or running a community business then there’s a good chance that you’ll speak to Alison, Nick or Misty at points along your journey.

Alison Macklin
Community Business Manager (she/her)

Alison has been working as our Community Business Manager for the last 3.5 years. Prior to this, she was a self-employed Plunkett Adviser, having spent the previous 15 years as the business manager of an award-winning community shop and café in the Wye Valley.

Alison is a font of community business knowledge and oversees our national network of 50 self-employed Plunkett Advisers. She spends most weeks travelling the length of the UK to support communities. You are likely to meet Alison at our online training webinars or if you decide to adopt or update Plunkett’s Model Rules.

Outside work, Alison has a rich and eclectic array of hobbies and interests – ask her about her fencing competitions, the plays she’s directed and her latest craft projects.

Misty Bower
Community Business Adviser (she/her)

Misty joined Plunkett in October 2023, with a background in teaching, small business marketing and as a community connector. She brings a variety of experience from both the charity and community business sectors, having spent the last 10 years growing a community-based charity and, more recently, launched an asset-locked social enterprise café. In April 2023, Misty received the Surrey High Sheriff Community Award in recognition of her work.

A Fellow of the School of Social Entrepreneurs, Misty enjoys mentoring community business pioneers and leaders to help them reach their potential.

Misty is very creative. When not working, she can be found playing with mixed media and making her own clothes or playing with her young grandson.

Nick Comley
Community Business Adviser (he/him)

Nick has been a Community Business Adviser since October 2023 and was previously a freelance Plunkett Adviser when he worked for the Rural Community Council for Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Nick spent much of his career in commercial management before working in the voluntary and community sector. He holds an Executive Diploma in Management from the Chartered Institute of Management and is a Social Return On Investment Network accredited practitioner.

Nick enjoys working with a wide range of organisations including charities, social enterprises and community owned businesses. Commenting on his new role at Plunkett, Nick said:

“I thought I knew quite a lot about the Plunkett Foundation as a commissioned Community Business Adviser, but since joining the organisation as a member of the Community Business Team, I can see I knew very little! I have certainly had my eyes opened to the wide range of activities and areas of operation where Plunkett is making an impact and delivering support in rural communities right across the UK. I am relishing working with groups over a much wider geographic area and extended range of community business types. It’s great to see the reach that Plunkett has and be part of such a great team!”

If you are considering setting up a community-owned business, or you are involved with an established community business and need advice, please contact us to explore how we can help – we always look forward to hearing from you!