Outdoor learning - Andrew Christie-Miller

The Ernest Cook Trust will develop stronger links with other countryside learning organisations, sharing expertise gleaned from the proven success of ECT’s education programmes to help even more children to learn from the land, the Trust’s new Chairman Andrew Christie-Miller has pledged.

Mr Christie-Miller, pictured, who took over as Chairman of ECT’s Board of Trustees following his predecessor Anthony Bosanquet’s retirement last November, has set out his vision for the Trust. “It’s a really exciting time, and my involvement with the Ernest Cook Trust so far has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life,” he said.

“My predecessor Anthony Bosanquet did a wonderful job and presided over a period of great expansion in the Trust’s education programmes and its grant donations. It’s quite daunting to follow in his footsteps.”

Andrew Christie-Miller, aged 63, has a solid background in countryside management and is a qualified chartered surveyor.

A former owner of the Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire, he is a past Chairman of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Timber Growers UK, and a former High Sheriff of Wiltshire. He is also Chairman of Salisbury Cathedral Trust, and a Trustee of Clinton Devon and Roxburghe Estates.

During his two decades as an ECT Trustee Mr Christie-Miller has witnessed a dramatic expansion of the charity’s free education programmes for schoolchildren. Since the Trust’s first organised school visits in the late 1990s, these have grown to over 25,000 children visiting its country estates last year.

“It’s where we go next that is the challenge,” Mr Christie-Miller said. “At some point in the future we will reach saturation point on our own country estates, so I’m keen to explore the idea of working with other landed estates and helping them set up similar programmes.”

Hundreds of schoolchildren in Buckinghamshire are already benefiting from a new partnership between the Ernest Cook Trust’s Hartwell Estate and neighbouring Waddesdon Manor and Estate. Mr Christie-Miller would like to see ECT involved in other, similar partnerships with landowners.

“Our approach to learning from the land has proved extremely successful and we have a growing reputation across the country for the work we do with young people,” he said. “We have an excellent education team and there is evidence that the kind of access that we give to the countryside has a very positive effect on children’s behaviour. So I think we are approaching a very exciting new phase in our schools programme.”

Andrew Christie-Miller also wants the Trust to build on its good relationships with its farm tenants. “I feel very strongly about the need for environmentally-friendly land management. And while ECT has always worked hard to support its tenants, I would like to see us be even more proactive in promoting and encouraging this,” he said.