Stephen Nicol joins the organisation as a trustee and chair with over 35 years’ experience working in the public and private sectors and is currently director of Nicol Economics.
Mr Nicol previously worked as a government economist in the Department of the Environment and at the Treasury and later ran an economics consultancy business. He struck an optimistic note as he took the reins at Plunkett.
The charity helps rural communities tackle challenges such as social isolation, employment and poverty by supporting enterprises – including shops, pubs, bakeries, farms and woodlands – that are owned and run democratically by members of the community.
Plunkett’s chief executive James Alcock welcomed the new chair, noting that his term begins at a time of both crisis and opportunity for the rural community business sector.
In its newly released Vision for a Covid-19 Rural Recovery, Plunkett has highlighted the achievements of community businesses across the UK during the lockdown. Since March community owned and run enterprises have shown strength and resourcefulness to provide vital services and support to people living in their areas, and especially those most in need and vulnerable. Many businesses remained open and relied on armies of volunteers to, for example, provide collection and delivery services of vital supplies.
Mr Nicol was elected chair of Plunkett following organisation’s AGM held remotely yesterday (Wednesday 9 September). He takes the role after Margaret Clark’s seven year term, which included the organisation’s centenary celebrations in 2019.
As she departed as chair, Margaret Clark said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead Plunkett for the last seven years. There have been some challenges and none more so than now, but Plunkett and its members have demonstrated their ability to adapt and I am sure will be even stronger in the future.