Michael BirnieThe Ernest Cook Trust has appointed Michael Birnie MRICS FAAV as its Property Director.

The Trust, based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages 22,000 acres of landed estates across five counties in England.

ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes on its estates, and by giving grants. Each year its Trustees distribute around £1.8m to a range of education initiatives.

Michael Birnie, aged 37, Joins ECT in a newly-created strategic role of Property Director, giving him responsibility for management of all ECT’s nine country estates and property interests

He grew up in a farming community in East Lothian, Scotland, and studied at Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities before starting his career at rural specialist chartered surveyors Smiths Gore.

He went on to join Buccleuch Estates Ltd, managing the Langholm Estate in the South of Scotland before moving to the South West to become Resident Land Agent at the Longleat Estate in Wiltshire.

 “It’s fantastic to be joining the Ernest Cook Trust,” he said. “The Trust’s work is just inspiring and it’s brilliant to think that I can continue my career in a beautiful part of the UK and contribute to the Trust’s desire to grow and develop education and rural learning.

“I’m also impressed by how interesting and diverse ECT’s farming businesses and respective tenants are – there’s so much energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurship out there, with a younger generation of tenants coming through.”

ECT’s Chief Executive Victoria Edwards said: “Michael brings a wealth of experience to estate management from around the country and has a real empathy for the work of the Ernest Cook Trust.  We feel very lucky to have attracted him to the post and look forward to working with him for many years.”