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Southern Uplands Partnership Board Members

Partnership Board

Alister Geddes
After graduating from Glasgow University in 1967, Alistair joined Ayr County Council as a Graduate Trainee. He moved to Wigtown County Council in 1971 to take up employment with them. He qualified as a Solicitor in 1975. Following upon the “Wheatley” Re-organization of Local Government in Scotland later that year, he transferred to Wigtown District Council, eventually becoming their Chief Executive and served in that capacity for approximately 13 years.  He took Voluntary Severance in 1996, following further Re-organization of Local Government in Scotland and entered private practice as a Solicitor and worked in that capacity until 2008. He was elected to Dumfries & Galloway Council as Councillor for the Whithorn Ward in May 1999 and served in that capacity until May 2007, when elected as a Councillor for the Mid-Galloway Ward. He has continued to serve in that capacity to date.

Charles A Strang
I have lived and worked in the Borders since 1979 as architect, urban & regional planner, and building conservationist, with particular interests in planning policies, (conservation) management planning, corporate strategy, landscape and photography. I am a Vice-President of the Association for the Preservation of Rural Scotland, UK Communications and Outreach Secretary of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, Executive Committee member of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, and Chairman of St Boswells Tennis Club. Formerly Director of Buildings and Gardens at NTS, I have also been a non-executive director of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union.

John Thomson (Convenor)
“Having lived and worked in the Southern Uplands for the past 20 years, I am acutely aware of the challenges which the area faces.  Joining the board of SUP presents a welcome opportunity to become more closely involved with initiatives to address key issues and realise the potential of this very special part of Scotland.”

John Thomson lives on a small farm near Kirkcudbright, where he and his wife run a herd of Galloway cattle. He has recently retired from Scottish Natural Heritage, where in his twenty years as a Director he led the organisation's work on land use, economic development and planning. Whilst overseeing SNH's operations in Dumfries and Galloway, he helped to set up the Southern Uplands Partnership and thereafter strongly supported its work. He also chaired the UK-wide Countryside Recreation Network and was extensively involved in matters European, both at a policy level and as a Council member of Europarc, the European network of National and Nature Parks. His earlier career included spells in HM Treasury, the Department of the Environment, the Countryside Commission (E&W) and the Scottish Office, where for two years before joining SNH he headed up the Planning Division.

Alan Crichton
Alan and his wife farm 168ha running some 130 suckler cows, growing crops of Lupicale and grass silage with the aim of finishing all cattle on the farm. He also ran a flock of 330 cross and blackface ewes until recently.

Whilst farming Alan has been constantly engaged with innovation and conservation. He was Chair of D & G FWAG and more recently Chair of NFUS Environment and Land Use Committee.

Hobbies are based around sailing with participation the single handed offshore races in France and hill walking in D & G.
I hope I can bring my skills of Farming Sailing and Environment to benefit SUP and it protection of this unique and beautiful part of the world.

John Thomas
As a trustee of the John Muir Trust I am involved in the management of its Borders property near Traquair, in organising the Borders group of the Trust and arranging open meetings on land related topics, and I volunteer for the Trust working on footpaths, tree planting and fencing across its properties in Scotland.  I do similar work for Borders Forest Trust as a member of its Wildwood Steering Group. 

I bring with me the experience in the JMT of working in partnership with local organisations across the UK in the belief that we can achieve much more by working together through organisations like the SUP than on our own. 

As a hill walker and mountaineer all my life and a Border resident for over 25 years working with NHS Borders for many of them I am keen to see and to help achieve appropriate developments in the uplands which will improve the local economy and help sustain local communities.

Andy McNab
I am geographer, environmental consultant and planner and was formerly Director for Sustainable Development with a large international engineering  consultancy. I have worked as a planner for several local authorities including Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and the Lake District National Park and as a lecturer in rural resource planning. I have managed a wide range of environmental and rural development projects for public and private clients in the UK and internationally. I have also helped to define and advise on the environmental and social impacts of major development projects. I am a Trustee of the Crichton Carbon Centre and Chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Group of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

Tony Fitzpatrick
Tony retired from Dumfries and Galloway Council in 2011 where he was Director for Economic Regeneration in charge of Economic Development, Planning and Strategic Housing.

An honours graduate from Strathclyde Business School, he has worked in the region for some 37 years. For 12 of these years, Tony was the Council’s Policy Officer for European and Rural Affairs during which time he ran a trans-national network, the ‘European Rural ‘Exchange’ involving 12 member states and rural local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. The network was very influential in the policy debate around Integrated Rural Development and contributed to European Commission thinking through the publication of a variety of policy papers.

Until April 2016, Tony was part-founder and Director for the Crichton Institute Regional Observatory based on the Crichton Campus in Dumfries as well as Senior Associate Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. He is currently Director and founder of TFS Consultancy focussing on economic, regional, rural and organisational development.

Fergus Watson
Fergus has 20 years experience as a business consultant supporting the development of Scottish SME’s both in urban and rural Scotland.

He has spent time as account manager with Scottish Enterprise and HIE and in recent years has been self employed delivering contracts in Dumfries and Galloway, Borders and Midlothian local authority areas.
Recent projects include delivering the Tourism Development Programme for the Borders Railway Blueprint.

Specific skills: business strategy, business planning, funding and market development.

Liz Brooks
The experience and strengths I bring to this role are, first, the nature of my current post at the Crichton Institute and Crichton Carbon Centre (since May 2014), which is dedicated to building a sustainable rurality practice for the South of Scotland region, and therefore leads me to specialise in areas that are of relevance to the development of SUP.

Secondly, in terms of topics and types of employer my work background, though eclectic, is socially committed and practice-oriented. I have some voluntary sector experience as a senior manager at a small national charity and understand the pressures of this kind of organisation, as well as the advantages it can have over bigger organisations in terms of responsiveness and flexibility. My private sector experience as an editor in humanities publishing allowed me to learn about the importance of external communications and developing ‘an audience’. 

As an academic researcher, I have most recently focused on environmental governance, energy demand, and resilience/sustainability but also have experience in ageing, planning, built environment and arts, backed up by qualifications to masters and doctoral levels. This broad range of interests can be helpful in working up projects involving a wide range of participants.

John Mitchell
John Graham Mitchell, born Edinburgh 1950, married to Doreen with three sons Kevin, Graham and Kris. He has been a resident in Borders since 1975. He is a Chartered Accountant and Bachelor of Commerce. First elected to Borders Regional Council in 1988, he has served on various Councils virtually uninterrupted to date. Interests include gardening, reading, politics and community affairs, and sport.


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