Women in Dairy Conference 2018

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Women in Dairy Conference 2017

Conference Programme

The theme of the 2017 conference was 'Through change comes opportunity' . The conference was held on 20 September at Sixways Stadium, Worcester and featured speakers from across the supply chain.

A selection of the presentations are now available to download, please scroll down to the programme below.

The conference featured the presentation of the first Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Award which was given to Dr Jude Capper. Read more about the award and the conference here.

Principal sponsor



If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for future events please call Rachel Bowcutt on 02476 639 317



10:00am – Registration (with refreshments)

10:20am – Welcome Address - Tim Downes, Dairy Farmer and RABDF Council Member

10:30am – Opportunities in a changing dairy industry – Shelagh Hancock, CEO, First Milk

11:00am – A snapshot of my shopping basket and the opportunities that have crossed my path  - Ciara Gorst, Head of Agriculture, Co-op

11:30am – Coffee break

11:50am – Planning for a better outcome – Neil Wilson, Head of Agriculture and Denise Llewellyn, Agriculture Manager HSBC 

12:20pm – Start the conversation today – Siân Bushell, Siân Bushell Associates

1:00pm – Lunch

1:45pm - Balancing it all - the family, the farm and me – Lucy Muir, Muir Farming Limited

2:15pm – Communication – it’s so much more than what you say! – Paul Harris, CEO, Real Success

3:00pm – Review of the day and feedback – Lisa Williams, Promar International; Emily Egan, RABDF; Sarah Bolt, Kingshay and Rebecca Miles, AHDB Dairy 

3:15pm – Presentation of the Dairy Industry Woman of the Year Award

Chaired by Di Wastenage, Women in Dairy Patron, RABDF Council Member
and Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year 2015


Conference Speakers


Shelagh hancock, CEO, First Milk

Shelagh Hancock has over 25 years’ experience in the food and agricultural supply sectors.

Most recently she held the roles of Managing Director and Business Development Director at Medina Dairy where she led the development of strategic relationships and business growth with major retailers.

Prior to this, she held a number of senior executive positions at the farmer-owned co-operative Milk Link including Milk Business Unit Director and Membership Director.

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Ciara gorst, head of agriculture, co-op

As Co-op’s Head of Agriculture, Ciara leads a dedicated team of food and farming specialists who work across dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, fish and horticulture, to ensure the retailer’s long-standing commitment to supporting British agriculture is upheld.

Ciara’s career with the Co-op spans almost a decade, having joined the retailer in 2008 working as a technical manager. Prior to this she spent five years working within the food supply chain.  

Ciara studied at the University of Dublin and holds a PhD in Food Microbiology as well as a BSc in Food Science and Technology.


Neil Wilson, head of agriculture, HSBC

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Neil was brought up on his family farm in the west of Scotland and following graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Agriculture he took up a career in banking.

Over the last 20 years he has undertaken various banking roles almost all involved with agriculture. Neil joined HSBC in November 2012 and was appointed Head of Agriculture in October 2016.

As well as leading a focused team of agriculture specialists with HSBC he is still actively involved with the family livestock farm in Kirkcudbrightshire.


Denise Llewellyn, agriculture manager, HSBC


Denise was born in Scotland and brought up on a dairy farm in Worcestershire. She helped her late husband to run his own business which made her aware of the challenges of managing cash flow, employing people and complying with changing legislation and technology.

Denise has been in banking almost all of her working life and joined HSBC in 2015 to take up the Agriculture Relationship Manager role, which she loves.

She is a mum to two grown up daughters and her hobbies include walking her spaniel round the local countryside and (less frequently) riding round the countryside on horseback. Denise is passionate about British Food because of its excellent quality and our high welfare standards.


Siân Bushell, Siân Bushell Associates

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Siân Bushell is a dairy farmer’s daughter from Pembrokeshire and was a partner in a dairy farm for over 25 years. After gaining an MBA in 2005, Sian travelled to Australia in 2006 to be trained as a Succession Facilitator by Lyn Sykes. She now works as a Facilitator all over the UK and Ireland.

Siân runs courses on Succession and often speaks at conferences and meetings. She also speaks and runs courses on People Skills and Farm Business Governance.

Siân is a founder member and current secretary of West Wales Grasshoppers discussion group. She is an entrepreneurial role model for the Big Ideas Wales project and an avid rugby supporter!


Lucy Muir, Muir Farming Limited

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Lucy Muir farms with her husband James and 3 children Angus, Oli and Charlie on their 565 acre dairy unit milking 400+ spring calving cows on a grass based system.

Lucy graduated from the Royal Agricultural College in 2005 with a BSc Hons in Equine and Agricultural Business Management. She then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Surveying from The College of Estate Management. Lucy worked for The National Trust for 7 years as Rural Surveyor for the London and South East region managing both residential property, dairy and arable farms.

At the end of 2012 after their eldest son was born, James and Lucy moved back to the family farm in Staffordshire to join her parents running the dairy herd. Since then, and as part of succession planning the structure at home has changed now to see their company Muir Farming Limited be created and is the basis on which they run their business at home.

As well as farming and raising their 3 children, Lucy has two event horses, enjoys running and furthering her knowledge through her personal development including the Entrepreneurs in Dairy course.

Lucy is passionate about achieving her goals, pushing herself to do more and making the most out of every opportunity she can get.


Paul Harris, CEO, Real Success

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Paul delivers training, coaching and consulting within the agricultural sector specialising in leadership development, team cohesion, improved communication, recruitment and managing performance. 

His work in the dairy farming industry is rapidly growing his reputation as one of the most respected authorities on team performance together with staff alignment and retention. He speaks regularly at key agricultural events on the subject of people development.


Di Wastenage, Patron of Women in Dairy

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Di Wastenage, ARAgS is a Director of a family farming business based in Devon & Cornwall and along with her husband, their business Wastenage Farms was awarded the Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year 2015.

Di is currently a Council Member of the RABDF, TBEAG and Bicton College. Di is very keen to promote our Industry and see the next generation come into agriculture.

She is passionate about the untapped potential of women in business and the skills, knowledge and experiences that we can bring to the Industry for the future.