New Chairman for Scottish Land & Estates

Press Release

Mark Tennant is the new Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) the rural business organisation.

Mark took over the role from David Johnstone at today’s Annual General Meeting of the organisation. Mark thanked David for all his work on behalf of SLE members and wider rural Scotland during his six years in the role.

Mark said “It is with very great pleasure that I take on the role as SLE Chairman. It is a great honour and will present some very interesting challenges in the coming few years.

“I will be working on several key issues and top of the list is ensuring Scotland’s rural businesses and communities are provided with all the information and help they need, ensuring they climb out as sure footed as possible from the appalling damage which Covid-19 has done. Our farming members continue to  provide a crucial service to Scotland through feeding the nation and we are hearing many wonderful stories of how others are helping their local communities at a time when their own businesses are impacted. 

“Amidst the horror of this pandemic, we need to recognise that Brexit has not gone away. Our members’ businesses across rural Scotland and the wider communities will be deeply affected by how the negotiations turn out. I will be doing all I can to ensure rural Scotland is considered as the Brexit story continues to unfold.

“The situation we are in as a country at the moment should not allow us to forget the target of net zero carbon emissions the Scottish Government has set, and the crucial role land managers will need to play in achieving it, such as using land as a carbon sink to drain greenhouse gas emissions. Over the coming months as we enter the ‘new normal’, we have the opportunity to consider how the way we do business could play a crucial role in fighting climate change.

“David has already carried out valuable work in many areas and provided a superb platform on which I can build. For over 110 years Scottish Land & Estates has been helping rural Scotland thrive and I will continue this mission.”

Mark’s family business, Innes Estate in Elgin, has been a member of SLE for over 40 years. During that time Mark has been a member of the organisation’s Highland Committee twice as well as Vice-Chair (Policy) since 2018. 

Also at the AGM, Hugh Campbell Adamson and Sarah-Jane Laing were reappointed as Directors and members of the Board.

Three new Directors and members of the Board were appointed:

  • Andrew Douglas Miller, Managing Partner of Forneth Estate, near Blairgowrie.
  • Lucy Laidlaw, a communications and community engagement specialist who spent the past nine years working at Buccleuch.
  • Derek Lewis, who owns and runs the Drimnin Estate on the western tip of the Morvern peninsula, just north of the Isle of Mull.

ENDS

Mark Tennant - biography

Mark’s career has ranged from tending refugees to investment banking.

His working life began in nursing with the NHS, which included a period in a Tibetan refugee camp in India. Mark then joined the Scots Guards before moving into a career in the City of London in 1974.

He was Chairman of Scottish Financial Enterprise from 2009-12 dealing with the impact of the financial crash. During this time, he was also Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Government’s financial services advisory board chaired by the First Minister.

Innes Estates is a 4500-acre low ground estate in Moray, the centre of which is Innes House, a 17th century Scottish Renaissance house where the family has run weddings and corporate events for over 20 years.

Andrew Douglas Miller - biography

Andrew has over 25 years business management experience principally in the retail industry. Having completed a retail graduate course in America, he returned to Scotland as a menswear buyer for Jenners department store in Edinburgh. He spent the following 18 years maintaining its reputation as a leading UK retail establishment, occupying several senior positions including Manager Director, before the company was sold in 2005.

From 2006, he was a director of a garden centre specialising in Scottish hardy plants and a retail consultant in other horticultural businesses. 

In 2018, as Managing Director of Bodnant Welsh Food, North Wales, his management experience extended to farm shops, restaurants, food production and rural events. This position also involved working in close partnership with the food and drink division of the Welsh Government.

Since 2015, Andrew has been the Managing Partner of Forneth Estate, near Blairgowrie. The 2,000 acre mixed farm has an Aberdeen Angus cattle herd, sheep, spring barley and potato operations. In addition, the estate manages residential lettings and is also extending its forestry operations both commercially and via natural regeneration. The ethos of the estate is one where agricultural activities work in harmony with wildlife. He is passionate in sharing the message about the value of rural businesses and how sensible diversification can enhance rural enterprises.

Andrew also has a keen interest in freshwater fisheries and renewable energy. Previous positions include Chairman of the Lower Oykel Fishery in Sutherland and a Director of Scaled Energy Ltd.

Lucy Laidlaw - biography

After graduating from Aberdeen University in 2006, Lucy spent her early career at one of the UK’s leading public relations consultancies working with high profile brands including O2, AirFrance, KLM, Famous Grouse and The Scottish Government. Lucy developed a passion for marketing and communications, implementing highly targeted national campaigns spanning experiential, digital and traditional forms of communication.

In 2011, Lucy took on the role of Marketing Manager at Buccleuch, with her role quickly evolving to encompass all communications, community engagement and marketing across the business; becoming Head of Communications and Community Engagement in 2014. In 2020 Lucy launched her own communications consultancy ‘Lucy Laidlaw’ focussing on community engagement in the rural sector. Over the last nine years, she has developed a strong understanding of the critical issues facing rural Scotland and in particular landowners and managers. 

Lucy is passionate about representing rural Scotland and ensuring the contribution of its businesses, is not only recognised publicly and politically but applauded.

At home, Lucy is mum to two young boys, who relish the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. She loves to cook and entertain, and when time and children permit, she loves to read.

Derek Lewis - biography

Derek has owned and run the Drimnin Estate, on the western tip of the Morvern peninsula, just north of the Isle of Mull, since 2002. The estate has played a key role in the regeneration of the Drimnin community, with a continuous programme of restoring its buildings, constructing new affordable houses, restoring the natural environment, and creating employment in tourism, forestry and a new distillery.  He is passionate about creating rural communities that are socially cohesive and sustainable both economically and environmentally.  The ten new jobs have been instrumental in increasing the permanent resident population.  The ruined 19th century chapel overlooking the Sound of Mull has been restored as a venue to support young musical ensembles as well as hosting concerts and weddings.  The distillery is committed to product innovation.  It is also unique in being the only fully organic distillery and operates entirely on renewable energy (mostly wood chip from the estate’s forests).  This work has earned two Helping it Happen awards for the estate.

In addition to his work at Drimnin, Derek brings experience from a career that has included the private, public and third sectors – Ford Motor Company, Granada Television, retail, hospitality, brewing, leisure, education, training, healthcare, social care and leading the prison service in England and Wales.  His current not-for-profit roles include chairing Royal Mencap Society, Community Alcohol Partnerships and West Highland College.

Derek says that he wanted to join the SLE board in the hope that he could in some way help rural businesses across Scotland to achieve their full potential in creating strong, vibrant and sustainable communities, while receiving the recognition they deserve in doing so.