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Trio of changes at the top for Royal Forestry Society
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Sir Jack Whitaker takes over as President of the Royal Forestry Society

Date Issued: 30 September 2013


On 1 October 2013 the Royal Forestry Society welcomes into post a new President, Vice President and a new Management Committee Chairman. Sir Jack Whitaker, former Vice President, becomes President, taking over from Nick Halsey whose two-year term of office has come to a close.

Sir Jack, who lives at Babworth Hall, Nottinghamshire, has extensive forestry interests in Nottinghamshire, Scotland and New Zealand, and a passion for engaging children with woodlands.

Dr Sophie Churchill OBE FICFor, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, becomes Vice President and  Ian Dudley, Associate Director at Lockhart Garratt, takes over as Management Committee Chairman from Andrew Woods of Abbey Forestry.

Accepting the Presidency, Jack Whitaker paid tribute to Nick Halsey who has overseen a restructuring of the RFS and a move of its headquarters from Tring in Hertfordshire to more centrally placed offices on the Upton Estate near Banbury.

Sir Jack said: “This is an exciting time for the RFS as we redefine the Society to better serve the interests of our wide membership committed to the wise management of tree and woodlands.

“There are three significant influences that have collided, and they give us a huge opportunity: helping woodland owners rise to the challenge of a multitude of pests and diseases; the sea change in the political landscape following the Bishop of Liverpool’s report; and the burgeoning woodfuel market, which has made such a difference to lowland forestry economics.

“We have already embarked on a number of new partnerships and ventures which are helping foresters to share knowledge and expertise, and we continue to raise the profile of good forestry and sound woodland management.

“We are an educational charity for adults and young people; we inaugurated Teaching Trees in the Yorkshire Division. This has survived its proofing and we are now rolling it out in the North of England. At the same time my presidency should see the RFS raising its game over a much wider field of education. This is very exciting.”

Dr Sophie Churchill OBE

Taking over as Vice President, Sophie Churchill says:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to support Sir Jack as President, Simon Lloyd as Development Director and the Society. Together I am sure we will continue to fulfil the core purpose of the Society, while finding new ways to address the urgent issues in forestry, with friends and colleagues across the sector.”

Ian Dudley, new Chairman of the RFS Management Committee

Taking over as Management Committee Chairman, Ian Dudley paid tribute to Andrew Woods:

“We are indebted to Andrew for all of his hard work over the past seven years, which have seen great change in the RFS while retaining our core values. He has expertly led the Management Committee in the delivery of our Way Forward agenda and, working with several successive Presidents, has helped the RFS to adapt to the modern age in which forestry now operates and the new challenges it faces.

“Our new strategy for the RFS has brought a great sense of renewal and momentum and I very much look forward to working with Sir Jack and Sophie to continue Andrew’s excellent work.”