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Armed forces to have a voice in future of historic military farm charity

A rural charitable trust set up in the aftermath of World War I to benefit ex-servicemen has launched a nationwide consultation to examine proposed improvements and changes as part of its modernisation plans.

Bosbury North Farm

Bosbury North Farm

The Buchanan Trust, based in Herefordshire, was set up in 1918 by benefactor Robert Buchanan in memory of his son Alan, who died in battle near Ypres, Belgium, in June 1915.

Gifting 650 acres of farmland on his estate in Bosbury, near Hereford, Mr Buchanan’s aim was to provide farmland to ex-service personnel interested in settling, developing new skills and making a living within the agricultural industry.

Almost 100 years on, and with newly co-opted members of its Board of management, the Trust is seeking opinions from those within and linked to the armed forces.

The four month-long consultation has been supporting the charity’s case for change and growth. It is a process, says the Trust’s chairman, which is in place to ensure the Trust is providing the opportunities and benefits required for men and women who leave the military looking for a new start.

Proposals from the Buchanan Trust include forming a dedicated rural educational training centre, partnerships with agricultural colleges and launching an UK-wide inner-city allotment scheme.

Terry James, Chairman of the Board of management of the Buchanan Trust, said: “Since the Trust was established we have seen significant social and economic changes across the UK.

“This pace of change, coupled with the decline in the need for farm labour due to technology advancements, has partly contributed to a shortage of former military personnel benefiting from the Trust’s assets. That’s a problem which was recognised in 1932 when the Trust widened the possible beneficiaries to include those with no link to the armed forces who were in need of relief.

“However, we are acutely aware that the Trust must be fit for the 21st century, and now more than ever, we have the opportunity to enhance our profile and engage far better with the military and ex-service personnel.

“It’s an opportunity we’ve grasped and we have been consulting widely over the past few months – already unearthing significant future possibilities through discussions with those directly connected to the military. They are helping immensely with which direction we should be heading but there is still time for further feedback as part of the process.

“We have some exciting proposals for the future which are centered around training and education as well as therapeutic benefits which farming and a rural lifestyle can offer. These proposals are not just concentrated on a corner of Herefordshire, it’s about looking to do things differently and take what we can offer to a national scale.”

Mr James said that the Trust, which in the past four months has already carried out significant research with charities and ex-service personnel, is particularly keen to hear from current service personnel following the government’s plan to cull 20,000 military jobs by 2015.

He added that the Trust could provide ‘extensive’ opportunities for those who find themselves redundant as a result of the cuts.

The consultation paper can be viewed at www.buchanan-trust.co.uk. All comments can be emailed to the Trust’s secretary George Thomson through georget@herefordshire.gov.uk or by telephoning 01432 260000.

Comments should be received by Thursday 28 February but those received soon after this date will be reviewed and considered.

 

  • The Buchanan Trust currently has nine tenant farmers on the Bosbury Estate in Herefordshire

  • Buchanan Trust – registered charity number 235867.Trustee: Herefordshire Council, Property Services, Land Agents Section, PO Box 4, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

  • The Buchanan Trust is a charitable trust established on 24 September 1918. Initially, the objectives of the Trust were to provide farming opportunities to soldiers and sailors returning from World War One. In 1918 the Trustees were given discretion to select suitable men who had served overseas during the war.

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