Trustees and Fellows


Plunkett Foundation is governed by a board of trustees who are elected by our members. Click on their profiles below to read more about each person.

Stephen Nicol

Stephen Nicol joined Plunkett’s as a trustee and was elected chair in September 2020. He is a professional economist with over 35 years of experience working in the public and private sectors. His early career was spent as a government economist in the Department of the Environment and then HM Treasury. He subsequently moved into private economics consultancy where he advises on social and economic impact and local economic development. He has worked for major companies, UK Government departments, international bodies, local enterprise partnerships and local government. From 1990, Stephen ran several divisions of different consultancy businesses and in 2000 set up his own firm, Regeneris Consulting. He grew and led the business as its managing director before leaving to form Nicol Economics in 2017. He is a trustee of an outdoor adventure charity for people with disabilities and a community-run outdoor swimming pool in Cumbria. He has been a board member of a Community Arts organisation and a regeneration partnership in Greater Manchester.

Helen Aldis
Vice Chair

Helen grew up on the family farm in Shropshire and combined her love of the countryside with her career in the charity sector when she joined The Prince’s Countryside Fund in 2014. While at the Fund she was responsible for overseeing its grant giving programme and worked closely with the Plunkett Foundation as a valued strategic partner. During this time she developed her understanding and appreciation of the valuable role that community businesses can play in delivering vital services and retaining key assets in rural communities. In 2019 she co-authored The Princes’ Countryside Fund’s Village Survival Guide.
Currently Helen is a programme manager in the farming and land use team at the Soil Association. She is also a trustee of Age UK Devon. Her previous experience includes leading the national awareness campaign Carers Week working with a coalition of national charity partners dedicated to supporting unpaid carers to access the support and services they need as well as tackling isolation. In summer 2018, Helen and her husband, plus much loved beagle-basset cross Dexter and cat moved to Dartmoor where she is an active member of the local community currently involved in the development of a new village website.

Julian Ross
Vice Chair

Julian joined the Plunkett board in 2014 and is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. In 2003, Julian took the lead in founding a co-operative to buy The Old Crown pub in the village of Hesket Newmarket on the northern edge of the Cumbrian Lake District. The purchase was completed in August 2003 and The Old Crown became the first co-operatively owned pub in Britain. Julian is chairman of the Old Crown Co-operative, a position he has held from the beginning. Since that time, several other pubs throughout the country have adopted the model pioneered by The Old Crown. Hesket Newmarket also has a microbrewery, situated just behind The Old Crown, which is also co-operatively owned.

In his ‘other life’, Julian works full-time as a freelance translator working from Dutch into English. He is married to Tori and lives in Carlisle.

Chris Coe

Chris Coe has worked as a Director and Trustee in the charitable sector for almost twenty years and he previously held Executive Director posts in major British retailers. Chris has volunteered his time to Plunkett for over four years and he has recently been supporting Plunkett’s Executive Director with leadership development, strategic planning, and organisational culture.

Martin Collett

Martin Collett is Chief Executive of English Rural Housing Association and has been working in the rural housing sector for around 20 years.

He is a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, graduate of the University of London and former Chair of the Rural Housing Alliance.

Martin is also a Director of the Rural Services Network, and a Trustee of the LGBT+ youth homelessness charity the Albert Kennedy Trust. After supporting the Plunkett Foundation for many years, he joined the Board as a Trustee in 2019 and is the current Chair of the Governance and Nominations Committee.

Sue Boer

Sue Boer became a Plunkett trustee in July 2014 and is the representative of the Plunkett Community Enterprise Network. Sue has been a member of the Kingsbury Community Shop management committee for 3 years. For the period of time before the shop opened, during its launch and as a manager since it opened.

During this time Sue has also represented the Plunkett Foundation by giving presentations to local and district councils and communities planning to open community shops.

Sue’s ‘day job’ has always been in Primary Education, as a teacher and then in school improvement, working in inner city schools that were failing. Her role was mainly to improve the quality of teaching and learning but also to ensure that the systems and structures were in place that would mean that the improvements could happen and be maintained. She has found that many of the leadership, people management and organisational skills needed to ensure development in these challenging circumstances, have served her well when working in the unfamiliar territory of community enterprise.

Ruth McAreavey

Ruth became a Plunkett Foundation trustee in December 2021.

Ruth is a Reader in Sociology and an Associate of the Centre for Rural Economy, both at Newcastle University. She has less direct experience of community businesses, but grew up on a farm in County Armagh (Northern Ireland), and has been working with rural communities for over twenty years with a very deep appreciation of their needs.

Adrian Smith OBE

Adrian was appointed as a Plunkett Foundation trustee in December 2021.

Adrian has had a 30 year career in Financial Services across the UK & Ireland, and is currently Chief Executive of Reclaim Ltd – the organisation responsible for managing the dormant assets scheme across the UK which has distributed over £800M to good causes. Adrian is passionate about rural communities and plays an active role in community activities locally including having been a Parish Councillor for 8 years and being a founder member and Secretary of the Winterbourne Bassett Community Pub in Wiltshire.

Adrian was awarded an OBE for services to Financial Services in the 2022 Queen’s New Years Honours list.


We bestow fellowships to individuals in recognition of the support they’ve given to Plunkett Foundation over a number of years. Click on their profiles of the people below to find out more about them.

Charlotte Hollins

Charlotte Hollins – of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative – became the Plunkett Foundation’s Centenary Fellow in November 2019. Charlotte was awarded the fellowship in recognition of her dedication and long service to the community farm, which was the first community business of its kind in the UK. Charlotte is the first fellow to also be the founder of a community business.

Charlotte and her brother Ben were faced with losing the family farm in 2004, and with it, years of organic farming research. Determined not to lose this unique farm, they turned to the local community for help. The fight for Fordhall led to the brother and sister unintentionally being pioneers of the community shares model. They also made a significant contribution to the creation of the Community Benefit Society model – a model which the majority of community businesses adopt today. Fordhall Farm has also stayed true to its original motivations and continues to be a much-loved resource for the local community and brings a range of wellbeing, training, social and educational opportunities to many. Charlotte has led the farm through many stages of diversification and development, whilst always keeping the community at its heart.

Charlotte has endless time and energy to support Plunkett, the community business sector and she inspires many to follow in Fordhall’s footsteps. Due to Charlotte’s commitment and energy, Fordhall truly  encompasses what community business can achieve.

David Button

David Button has almost thirty five years’ experience in the Co-operative sector, having held key senior positions in Food from Britain, both as agricultural development director and as financial controller.

He is a past Chairman of the Plunkett Foundation holding the position for six years being instrumental in leading the organisation through an extensive strategic, financial and staffing review. This enabled the Foundation to maintain its key agricultural and rural co-operative development objectives whilst developing a leading role in the social enterprise sector.

David has considerable practical experience of all forms of cooperative development within the UK and also as a senior consultant working on international projects in Central and Eastern Europe funded by DFID and through them the World Bank He is currently a main Board member of Co-operatives uk representing its federal members and is also Chair of the UK Co-operative Forum where he also represents English Farming and Food Partnerships for whom he works as an Associate Consultant advising on all areas of agricultural collaborative development.

Dr Rita Rhodes

Dr Rita Rhodes, a long standing member and former Trustee of the Plunkett Foundation, graduated from the Co-operative College in 1957 and after this time took on a number of co-operative education roles. Her roles included Lecturer in Co-operative Studies at Magee College, University of Ulster, Londonderry, the Co-operative Union’s Scottish Sectional Education Officer, the Education Liaison Officer of the National Co-operative Development Agency, London and the Education Officer and Secretary to the Women’s Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance in London and Geneva.

In 1995 she completed her Ph.D at the Open University on The International Co-operative Alliance During War and Peace 1910-1950 and her thesis was published by the International Co-operative Alliance in the same year. She has since co-authored Thematic Guice to ICA Congresses 1895-1995 in 1996 and authored An Arsenal for Labour – The Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society and Politics 1896-1996 in 1997. Currently, she is preparing a history of the development of co-operatives in the British Empite 1900 – 1960. Dr Rhodes has written numerous articles for Co-operative journals and has delivered papers for national and international co-operative research conferences. She has undertaken co-operative education and training assignments in Malaysia,Sri Lanka, Egypt and Mongolia for the Plunkett Foundation and ILO, often for co-operative women members.

Dr Rhodes is a Visiting Research Associate of the Co-operative Research Unit at the Open University, a member and past Chair of the Society of Co-operative Studies and Review Editor of the Journal of Co-operative Studies and a founder member of the Scottish Co-operatives Development Committee.

Edgar Parnell

Edgar Parnell started his working life in a consumer co-operative in the north of England and subsequently held senior management posts within several UK co-operatives before becoming General Manager of the Co-operative Development Trust, Botswana, which established the nation’s first supermarkets and central wholesaling operations.

On returning to the UK he was appointed as a retail management consultant for Clarks Ltd and later held a similar position with the Co-operative Wholesale Society (UK). Next he became the Non-Food Retailing Manager covering co-operative stores throughout Scotland; then in 1974 adviser on co-operative management to the Government of Jamaica. Other appointments followed, including Manager for the Fund for the Research and Development of Africa and then UN/ILO adviser on management and marketing to co-operatives in India. In 1980 he was appointed as Education Officer at the Plunkett Foundation and thereafter served as Chief Executive from 1984 to 1998.

He has undertaken consultancy and training assignments for co-operatives both in the UK and in over 40 other countries. He also served as: a member of the General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance, co-chairman of the EU Committee for the Development of the Rural Economy of Poland, a member of the Council of the Federation of Agricultural Co-operatives (UK), chairman of the UK national Co-operative Development Agency, Education and Training Committee, and on various COGECA (the EU federation of agricultural co-operatives) working parties. Edgar Parnell is the author of many publications of which the best known is Reinventing the Cooperative – Enterprises for the 21st Century, which has been translated into several languages. Edgar is author of the Co-op Pundit blog

John Tyrell

John Tyrrell comes from a farming background in County Dublin and is a graduate of University College Dublin with an Honours Degree in Agricultural Science, specialising in Animal Production.

Between 1975 and 1978, he worked with ADAS in the UK as a Dairy Husbandry Advisor. In 1978 he joined the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), the umbrella organisation for agricultural co-operatives in Ireland. In 1990, he was appointed Director General of ICOS. He has been deeply involved in the major structural changes which have occurred in the Irish co-operative sector since 1990 including the mergers of co-operatives. This has included chairing of merger negotiations. He has also played an active role in the development of the Irish position on the Common Agricultural Policy, and is on a number of expert groups which the Irish Government has set up to advise an food and agriculture policy.

ICOS advises co-operatives on policy issues, including sectoral policy, co-operative structures and representation of co-operatives’ interests at national and international level. It also provides a wide range of services for co-operatives and has long been involved in facilitating the re-organisation of the Irish dairy sector.

He was Vice President of COGECA, the European Association of Agricultural and Fishing Co-operatives from 1996-99. He is also a member of a number of European Advisory Committees including the Common Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee.

Kate Targett

Kate Targett began her career as a journalist in the USA, before arriving in the UK in 1984. Here she put her honours degrees in history and English to work as Press Officer and ‘wordsmith’ for five counties of the English Tourist Board. In 1992 she joined the Plunkett Foundation, initially with the international development department and subsequently as Information Services Manager, librarian and archivist. A substantial grant from the Ireland Funds in 1998 enabled her to undertake a major project of heritage conservation, preservation and electronic classification for the Foundation’s historic collection of co-operative books, journals, manuscripts and correspondence.

After a year studying and teaching English as a Foreign Language at Oxford Brookes University, Kate returned to her major interest in the Foundation’s heritage in 2003. At the invitation of ICOS Director-General John Tyrrell and James Moloney, Chairman of the IAWS (now One51), she transcribed, annotated and indexed the fifty-one volumes of Sir Horace Plunkett’s handwritten diaries. Covering the years 1881 to 1932, these documents clarify and amplify Plunkett’s colourful biography, as well as his unique role in the social, political and co-operative landscape of Ireland, England and America.

Since retiring in 2008 Kate has remained committed to promoting a range of social enterprises and occasionally edits material for co-operative publications. She became a Fellow in 2011.

Lord Plumb

Quintin Fox

Born and raised in rural Worcestershire and educated at the University of London, Quintin joined the Plunkett Foundation at the beginning of 2001 and went on to become Head of Consultancy and Training. The values of Sir Horace and the work of the Foundation in promoting and supporting economic self-help in rural and agricultural communities resonates deeply with him. At the end of 2005, Quintin and his family emigrated to Canada where he became responsible for member services, education and research at the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) in Ottawa. Quintin continued to maintain links with and promote the work of the Plunkett Foundation since coming to Canada. His experience during his time at the Foundation in developing education and training programs for farmer-directors directly led to his involvement in the award-winning Leadership in Governance director and delegate training program at Gay Lea Foods Co-operative. Gay Lea Foods is one of Canada’s largest dairy co-operatives with over 30% of Ontario dairy farmers as member-owners and over $600 million in sales. In 2012 he joined Gay Lea Foods as Director of Training Development and Capacity Resourcing and is responsible for leadership and co-operative development programs for members, staff, delegates and directors. He resides with his family in beautiful Guelph, Ontario.

Richard Moreton

Former Plunkett Foundation Chief Executive Richard Moreton became a Plunkett Fellow at the 2013 Plunkett Foundation AGM. Richard originally joined the Plunkett Foundation team for the first time in the 1980s working closely with another Plunkett Fellow, Edgar Parnell. Richard then rejoined Plunkett as Chief Executive in 2000 and led the organisation until late 2006. Richard has contributed hugely to building what the Plunkett Foundation is today. Under Richard the Plunkett Foundation took on the community shop support role previously provided by ViRSA. He developed Plunkett’s reputation as experts in rural social enterprise and also conceptualised the Making Local Food Work programme which became a reality shortly after leaving the Plunkett Foundation.