ACT Trustees

ACT is a membership organisation, a charity and a company limited by guarantee. ACT has a Management Board of no less than eight and up to twelve individuals, who are called either Trustees, Directors, or Board Members. They are elected annually at the ACT AGM, usually in September.

ACT’s trustees celebrating its 70th birthday in 2018.

Jim Webster - Chairman

Jim Webster - Chairman

Jim has farmed in South Cumbria all his life and is our Chairman. 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.

Charles Ecroyd - Vice Chairman

Charles Ecroyd - Vice Chairman

Charles Ecroyd, our Vice Chairman lives near Armathwaite in the Eden Valley with his wife and their two children where he runs the family's agricultural and sporting Estate. In recent years their home has been a licensed venue for various activities including weddings, lunches and dinners. Charles' wife Sara runs her own catering business.

Charles is currently chairman of Mitre Housing Association and Eden Rivers Trust, a Vice-President of Lakeland Housing Association and is a Board member of Action with Communities in Cumbria. He is vice-chairman of Armathwaite PCC and a Patron in the Inglewood Group of Churches. He was a long-serving member of the Cumbria & Lakes Local Access Forum and retains a keen interest in initiatives contributing to improve access in and to the countryside. He is also a Director and Company Secretary of a small family-owned Limited Company.

Alan McViety

Alan McViety

Alan is a retired Chartered Accountant and current High Sheriff for Cumbria. He has a keen interest in rural affairs having lived all his life in Cumbria and has a practical business approach to life. In his leisure time he enjoys travel to other countries and in particular the rural areas of those countries. He is an active Rotarian and took part in an aid convoy to Mali including an excursion to Timbuktu. His travels have also taken him to the most northerly Rotary club in Murmansk, Northern Russia.

Alan has been an ACT Trustee since 2002, supporting ACT’s financial planning and operations.

Liz Clegg

Liz Clegg

Liz has lived in rural West Cumbria for over forty years, and has brought up a family of four children. She worked as a Market Research Interviewer and set up the Muncaster Microbus, a community transport initiative, which is now a Charity and Company limited by Guarantee. This experience has made her passionate about the importance of passenger transport in a rural county, especially for those who cannot drive or afford a car.

Also for the last twenty years, Liz has worked as a volunteer in the community and health representation field, working closely with staff from the NHS and other Public Sector organisations to ensure that the views and experience of users and local communities are heard when delivering health and social care.

Sam Bramwell

Sam Bramwell

Sam has spent her working life in a variety of roles within the public, private and voluntary sectors including in primary and adult education and working for the Rural Women’s Network, a network set up by Voluntary Action Cumbria to support Cumbrian women in business.

More recently she has worked within Economic Development at the County Council where she has developed and managed economic programmes including the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 Solway, Border and Eden LEADER Programmes. Since July 2018, she has been employed by Foundation Scotland working with communities in the South of Scotland.

She has a keen interest in sustainable rural economic and community development, and is committed to supporting local communities to resolve the issues that are facing them.

Sue Castle-Clarke

Sue Castle-Clarke

After studying linguistics and business administration, Sue has spent her working life in commercial environments within both the private and public sectors, undertaking a variety of roles for BPB Industries Ltd, Rural Development Commission and Cumbria County Council.

Sue has lived in Cumbria for over 40 years where she has actively engaged in her local community through serving on the parish council, involvement with her village hall committee and membership of various social groups.

Sue’s attachment to the countryside is strong, as is her commitment to encouraging local people to influence the future of their communities positively through their own choices and ensuring that the special characteristics of rural Cumbria can be celebrated and sustained.

Juan Shimmin

Juan Shimmin

Juan grew up in rural Cumbria, he attended Penrith Grammar School and studied Politics and Economics at university. He undertook teacher training, working as a teacher for 10 years then moved to the voluntary sector; setting up and managing an employment development team at Action for Blind People. He then developed and managed a national fundraising team, spending four years as Partnership Development Manager all within Action for Blind People.

Juan has spent the last thirteen years at Cumbria Youth Alliance providing infrastructure support to youth sector groups with governance, quality, fundraising and training. Volunteer roles have included supporting people with learning disabilities, trustee roles at Carlisle Play for All, Voluntary Sector North West, Cumbria Third Sector Consortium, Cumbria Youth Alliance and Co-ordinator at North Cumbria Community Transport.

Nigel Curry

Nigel Curry

Nigel lives in South Cumbria and has had a career-long interest in rural communities. He has undertaken wide-ranging research in this area through the Countryside and Community Research Institute, which he founded in 1986. This work has included writing the history of the Rural Community Councils – Reaping a Community Harvest – which was published in 2021.

Nigel previously has been a trustee for the Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire Rural Community Councils and was a member of the ACRE Board between 2018 – 2023. Currently he also is a Member of the Advisory Board of the University of Cumbria’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas.

ACT President 

 The President's role is an official post within the ACT structure. The appointment is bestowed at the invitation of the Board of Trustees and is an honour that reflects outstanding contribution to the work of ACT and/or the rural communities of Cumbria. We are proud to have Jolyon Dodgson as our current President. 

Jolyon Dodgson MBE - President

Jolyon Dodgson MBE - President

Jolyon has been active in the field of rural affairs in the North West for 40 years; initially Senior Organiser for the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, then Regional Director of the Country Land and Business Association.

His voluntary work has included Chair of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Chair of VAC (now ACT) and Executive Member of the North West Rural Affairs Forum. He founded Cumbria Rural Forum and was founder member of the North West Rural Affairs Forum. In former years, Jolyon was Vice-Chair and then Acting Chair of the National Lottery Charities Board and the first Chairman of Awards for All in the North West.

By profession Jolyon is a musician and has performed as soloist all over the world.

Jolyon has been associated with ACT since 1978. He has been a Trustee, then Chairman, and now proudly is President. He is also very proud to have been awarded an MBE for services to music and to the rural communities of Cumbria.

Olive Clarke - Vice President

Olive Clarke - Vice President

Olive Clarke – Vice President to December 2023.

Olive Clarke was involved with ACT for many years and brought a life-long commitment to rural issues across Cumbria. The record of her achievements and lists of honours is beyond the scope of this brief summary. Suffice to say she was recognised nationwide for her outstanding personal commitment to agriculture and rural life. Here is a just a snapshot of her experiences.

Olive was a deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria and she received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1978, the MBE in 1979 and an OBE in 1994. She was a magistrate for more than 30 years, chaired the WI, County Landowners Association and was involved in the Young Farmers Federation for many years.

Olive was the first chairperson of ACT’s Village hall Conferences and was treasurer of her own Village Hall for over 30 years. As a lifelong committed WI member, Olive believed we must first build our own Jerusalem on our own home ground

Olive passed away peacefully in her 102nd  year, still living independently at home. At her commemoration service she left instruction that afterwards, ‘everyone must have refreshments in the Village Hall’ Olive will be much missed in ACT and throughout Cumbria.