Charles Smith, Chief Executive of Farming Help charity, The Farming Community Network (FCN), has announced that he will step down from the role in December 2019.
Mr Smith joined FCN in June 2011 and has led the organisation through a period of change and significant improvements, including:
• Greater recognition in the industry for the critical work of our wonderful volunteers
• Greater awareness of the work of FCN across the whole farming community
• Growing expertise within the national volunteer network of over 400 people.
Mr Smith will be staying on until a successor is appointed.
In a message to staff, informing them of his decision, Mr Smith said:
“It has been a privilege to lead FCN for the past eight years so to leave now has not been an easy decision for me to take. I have been impressed and humbled by the incredible work carried out by our volunteers on the ground, as well as our staff. I am very proud of our progress as a charity and the number of farmers and families we have been able to help during this time.
“As FCN approaches its 25th anniversary, I am confident that we have laid solid foundations for a successful future. I feel that now is the right time for me to step down and hand over the reins so I can enjoy my farm in retirement. I leave in the confident knowledge that our beloved FCN will go on to provide even more comprehensive support to the farming community.”
The charity’s Chairman, Mark Suthern, said:
“I would like to thank Charles for the enormous contribution he has made during his tenure as Chief Executive at FCN. He leaves the charity significantly stronger both operationally and financially; and having broadened its supporter base.
“I wish Charles all the best in his retirement. [We will be advertising for a successor in the coming weeks]”
Howard Petch CBE, Chair of Trustees at Germinate, The Arthur Rank Centre and former Vice-chairman of FCN Trustees commented:
“Charles has made a huge contribution to the developmental journey of FCN. Under his leadership and guidance FCN has remained rooted in its Christian ethos, is more ‘fit for purpose’ and has a national profile and credibility way beyond the level he inherited. He has harnessed the commitment and experience of hundreds of volunteers in the service of the farming community and ensured a much higher level of financial sustainability.”
Christopher Jones MBE, Founder of FCN and Honorary President:
“Leading the Farming Community Network is not a “normal” job: it is a vocation, a Christian Ministry. It involves relating to all the possible circumstances of farming lives, family and business, technical and social, regulation and regulators, exhaustion and despair. Charles has lived and thrived in all of this and the organisation has thrived with him, but his family farming needs more of him now.”
George Dunn, CEO of TFA and former FCN Chairman of Trustees said:
“I am thankful to God for all that Charles has done with FCN. The success of the organisation and the impact that it is having on the health and well-being of the farming community is, in large part, due to the passionate, careful, determined and focused input that Charles has brought to the role of Chief Executive. Through his work at FCN Charles has undoubtedly done much to contribute towards building a more resilient farming community.”