In conversation with the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust

Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust

For almost a generation, the Oxford Farming Conference and the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust have been working together. In the latest podcast from the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC), Co-Chair Sarah Mukherjee speaks to Christopher Bourchier, Chair of the trust, about the longstanding partnership between the two charities.

The trust has supported the OFC since 2001, sponsoring the Frank Parkinson Lecture as part of its core objective to ensure the improvement and welfare of British agriculture.

“When I was chair of the OFC in 2000, I found it could be quite challenging to bring together speakers from a diverse background,” said Christopher Bourchier. “It occurred to me that the Parkinson Trust’s objectives would fit well with OFC’s mission to challenge, inform and inspire.

“For over 20 years the Frank Parkinson Lecture has brought remarkable people from all over the world to speak at Oxford and it continues to be a highlight for conference delegates.”

From Mark Lynas’ presentation on GM crops in 2013 to Poran Malani challenging agriculture’s brand in 2020, the Frank Parkinson Lecture enables the OFC to source high-quality speakers to share their views and stimulate attendees with opportunities and topics that are out of the ordinary.

The trust’s founder, Frank Parkinson, was a self-made man, starting out from Guiseley as an apprentice at Rhodes Motors (having left school at 14) before establishing an electric motor manufacturing business with his brother. There followed many mergers and takeovers, including Crompton Parkinson Ltd and British Electric Transformer Co, including Tricity.

He then looked overseas and became the first British electrical company to manufacture and market transformers, switch-gear, alternators and motor control gear in India as Greaves Cotton Crompton Parkinson Ltd.

Frank Parkinson’s principal land purchase was 2500-acre West Tisted Manor Estate in Hampshire, which was ultimately sold in 1955 to finance the Trust.

The Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust was set up by Frank in 1943 to drive progress in agriculture, and over the years it has supported many agricultural colleges and universities.

“Our history has been to support traditional educational establishments and there are Parkinson buildings and lecture theatres throughout Britain. Our support has now moved more from ‘bricks’ to ‘clicks’, looking at how we can utilise and support intellectual property which is where we can perhaps have the greatest influence.”

The theme for OFC 2022 will be Routes to Resilience, investigating the “missing middle” in agriculture with a focus on trade, policy, science, food, supply chains and innovation.

Listen to the podcast here.