Cumbria Rural Forum
The Cumbria Rural Forum is about people living in a changing countryside and their experiences, engagement with their communities, and accumulated skills and wisdom. Each year there is a programme of events centred on key issues facing rural communities.
The Forum started in 1991 as the Cumbria Countryside Forum, providing organisations and individuals with a place to come together and discuss issues of concern to rural life. In 2000 the forum was changed to become the Cumbria Rural Forum. More information about the forum, its structure and the work it carries out can be found here. Information about future forums can be found on the Events page.
Rural Briefings, produced after each Forum event summarise the presentations, workshops, and issues discussed.
Cumbria Rural Forum Business Group Members
Jim is Chair of the Cumbria Rural Forum and also an ACT Trustee. He has farmed in South Cumbria all his life. As well as this he's a writer, freelance journalist, and at various times has acted as a consultant. A life member of the Youth Hostel Association he is an enthusiastic walker. Other than that he has had a long interest in rural matters being a member of the Churches Together in Cumbria Rural Forum, and a volunteer for Farm Crisis Network.
Jolyon Dodgson MBE
Jolyon has been active in the field of rural affairs in the North West for over 30 years, as Senior Organiser of Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, then as Regional Director of Country Land & Business Association. Jolyon’s voluntary work has included the post of national Chair of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and chair of Cumbria Rural Community Council (Action with Communities in Cumbria). He also founded Cumbria Rural Forum. Jolyon was Vice-Chair and Acting Chair of the National Lottery Charities Board for the north west, and Chairman of Awards for All. Jolyon is President of ACT and also Chair of the Churches’ Rural Forum, Chair of Cumbria Rural Housing Trust and Vice-Chair of the Lakeland Housing Trust, Board member of the Mitre Housing Association, Chair of Governors of his local village school in the Lake District and a Governor of Myerscough College.
Mervyn was brought up on an upland farm in North Wales and worked as a government farm adviser in the north of England for 42 years before retiring in May 2011. Initially, he was involved in agri-business, specialising in the development of upland farming. Later he became involved with agri-environment schemes specialising in their application on upland farms. He is familiar with the make-up of rural communities and the issues they face. Mervyn is the current chair of Cumbria Churches’ Rural Forum which consists of representatives from most of the mainstream Christian denominations. He is also a school governor at a local primary school and enjoys fell walking.
Born in Surrey, Roger has lived and worked in Cumbria since graduating in 1974. He holds a Diploma in Town & Country Planning, is a Member (Ret) of the Royal Town Planning Institute and is a past member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
Roger’s professional career included periods managing planning applications, developing planning policy, advising the owners of listed buildings, developing and managing grants programmes and developing town centre management services. Later, Roger joined Voluntary Action Cumbria (now ACTion with Communities in Cumbria) and in 2004 was promoted to the post of Chief Executive. Since leaving ACT in 2011 Roger has maintained a close interest in public policy and its impact on rural people and communities. He is currently a Board Member with Eden Housing Association.
Douglas is Chief Executive of Friends of the Lake District. He joined Friends from the CLA which he joined as regional director for the North-West during the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001. He has been northern director of policy and public affairs since 2012.
He grew up on his family’s farm on the north-east coast of Aberdeenshire and studied agriculture at the University of Aberdeen. After graduating in animal science, he trained as an animal nutritionist and spent 20 years in the agricultural supply industry around England, moving through technical and sales management before becoming a general manager.
Over the past 15 years he has been involved in a wide number of rural groups, including as secretary of the Cumbria and North and East Lancashire Rural and Farming Network, board member of Cumbria Local Nature Partnership, member of Cumbria Rural Forum Business Group, Cumbria Local Access Forum and the Lake District National Park Partnership.
Lorrainne Smyth is the chief executive officer of ACTion with Communities in Cumbria.
She is a community development professional with over thirty years in urban and rural development work. Originally from London, Lorrainne moved to Cumbria as a management development consultant .in the early 80’s. Having worked in local authority, third and private sector organisations in London and Cumbria she brings a wide range of experience to the Cumbria Rural Forum debates.
Lorrainne works with the Cumbria Rural Forum chairperson to deliver ACT’s partnership in, delivery and facilitation of the Forum’s activities.