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Jun 26, 2013

Consultation will add ‘new dimensions’ to historic military farm charity


A nationwide consultation launched to help transform a historic military charity has been hailed as a ‘tremendous success’ by its chairman.

The Buchanan Trust was set up by benefactor Robert Buchanan during the aftermath of World War 1 in memory of his son Alan who died in battle near Ypres, Belgium in June 1915.

Gifting 800 acres of land on his estate in Bosbury, near Hereford, Mr Buchanan wanted to provide land to ex-soldiers for the settlement or employment in agriculture.

Almost a century on, the Trust launched a four-month long consultation in November 2012 as part of modernisation plans and to ensure the Trust provides wider, more relevant opportunities for serving and ex-service personnel who show an interest in agriculture or rural employment opportunities.

The consultation concluded in March and has driven a variety of radical proposals which Councillor Terry James, chairman of the Buchanan Trust’s board, said will provide an ‘essential springboard’ in the charity’s quest to broaden the benefits it can deliver to a greatly increased number of beneficiaries.

Mr James has revealed that proposed future plans include a potential educational and training partnership with a fellow military charity and an agricultural college to launch a programme of agricultural ‘taster’ training courses, as well as new funding streams for rural training and development.

The Trust has also expressed its wish to increase its potential benevolence outside of its historic Herefordshire roots with a proposal to acquire land near to a yet-to-be-named military town for the benefit of ex-service and serving personnel to use as allotments.

Mr James said: “The Buchanan Trust will always have historical roots but the pace of change over the past 100 years has meant there was a vital requirement to not only modernise, but widen the scope of how the Trust can benefit past, transitional and present military personnel.

“The consultation process has allowed us to start that journey and has been a tremendous success. Over four months we sought views from key individuals and organisations up and down the country – people with in-depth knowledge of the military, agricultural and rural sectors together with current and former military personnel.

“Their input, coupled with our own ideas, has meant we have grasped the opportunity to move the Trust into 21st century – proposing to add new national-scale projects to increase the prospects for ex-service personnel, those still serving and for those in transition from military to civilian life.

“We made it clear earlier this year that we wanted to widen the scope of the Trust. Therefore we are proposing the purchase of suitable land in or near to a military town – a move which will see the launch of a new allotment scheme. It’s an initiative the Trust is excited about because for many serving or ex-military personnel it may be a possible first stepping-stone into a new rural land-based career.

“A big part of our future plans will also focus on training, rural skills and development. By the end of this year we will have launched a pilot scheme in partnership with an agricultural college which will be a programme of taster courses covering a variety of agricultural and rural business skills. The courses will be run by professionals to give ex-military personnel a clear idea of what to expect in running a rural business.”

The Trust will also appoint two new non-council Board members from a military and business background. Both will play key roles in helping to push through the reforms and ensure their relevance to ex-service and transitional personnel.

Mr James added: “The consultation has provided an essential springboard for the Buchanan Trust. We are concentrating on new ways of working, taking the proposals forward on a national scale and forging new partnerships - all ideas which will give far greater benefits, options and support, to a broad base of beneficiaries.”

The rare consultation took views from almost 30 key military individuals, charities and agricultural organisations. Aside from the educational and land purchase plans, the consultation will also see the appointment of a project manager who will help to put the plans in place.

A public meeting to discuss the proposals from the Buchanan Trust will be held on Thursday 20 June 2013 at 18:00 in the Council Chamber, Hafod Road, Brockington.

The full consultation documents, a summary of responses and proposals can be found on the Buchanan Trust website at www.buchanan-trust.co.uk

 

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