nicholas-and-victoria-for-webThe Ernest Cook Trust has welcomed its new Chief Executive, Dr Victoria Edwards OBE. 

Dr  Edwards started the job on October 3rd, taking over from Nicholas Ford, left, who has stepped down after 14 years with the Trust. 

Under his leadership, ECT has seen its education programmes grow from a few school visits annually, to its provision today. Over 30,000 children a year now learn from the land on its country estates, including the 4,200-acre Fairford Estate.

Paying tribute to Nicholas, she said: “I’m so grateful to him for all he’s passed on to me, not least a very healthy and successful organisation as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

The Ernest Cook Trust (ECT), 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 English counties.

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

Previously, Victoria Edwards was a Trustee of ECT for nine years, and her appointment brings a sense of continuity, with the advantage of her knowing the charity’s country estates, its tenants and its staff.

She has a background in both estate management and education. After an early career as a rural chartered surveyor, most recently she was Associate Professor and Rural Programmes Director at the University of Reading Henley Business School.

“My background gives me a good perspective of all aspects of the Trust’s work,” she said. “I know and understand our country estates as well as having an eye for education and a huge commitment to outdoor learning – not just for children and young people, but for people of all ages,”

She and her husband Rick move into a house on ECT’s Fairford Estate at the end of this month. “Everyone I’ve met in Fairford has been so friendly and welcoming,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to being part of this community.”