The Directors of Scottish Rural Action are elected by the membership each year to govern the organisation.
Amanda Burgauer, Chair
Amanda lives in the southernmost part of South Lanarkshire, in the Lowther Hills. She’s a member of the Lanarkshire LEADER Local Action Group and is Treasurer/Director at Wiston Lodge, a charity that supports children and young people. Amanda is passionate about rural affairs and the need for vibrant, sustainable rural communities, and is active in local broadband initiatives as well as local democracy and land reform. Amanda was involved in the first workshop in Edinburgh that sought ideas from others in the European Rural Movement and has attended both Scottish Rural Parliaments since, becoming Chair of Scottish Rural Action in February 2016.
– Vanessa is committed to helping rural areas to remain vibrant and healthy. She has worked in rural community development in Scotland for over 30 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum, the first community based rural movement in Scotland, and worked for Rural Forum Scotland. Among other things, she managed the EU funded Duthchas initiative on sustainability of peripheral rural communities (www.duthchas.org.uk); the Moray Firth Partnership; the Rural Transfer Network – sharing policy and practice in rural development across the Nordic region and Scotland; the Strategic Partnership between the North of Scotland and West of Norway – focussed on rural development. She was rural development policy officer in SNH. For 7 years a community councillor and Highland rep. on the national ASCC, she continues to be active in local projects and is a director of 3 local community development organisations in the Black Isle. Her research on the rural movements of Europe lead in 2005 to the formation of the European Rural Community Alliance ERCA, of which she is a director, also to initiatives to promote and establish a rural movement in Scotland, From 2011-2013 she worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to develop the first Scottish Rural Parliament, and establish Scottish Rural Action SRA as the first rural movement in Scotland since 1999. Through ERCA, she was involved in initiating the first European Rural Parliament ERP in 2013, and went on to be Joint Coordinator for the ERP. The ERP has grown to have National Partners in 40 European countries (including Scotland), each a civil society organisation working with rural communities to support and enable rural development. Vanessa also loves to spend free time walking and canoeing in the wonderful Highlands and enjoying music and other local arts activities in her home town, Cromarty.
– Rebecca is the Communications & Events Manager for Jane Craigie Marketing, a company that specialises in the agricultural, environmental, food and rural sector. She leads on the digital content creation and planning, social media and events.
Formerly Communications and Rural Affairs Manager at the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, she has a real passion for engaging with young people so they have the opportunity to have their voice heard.
Rebecca is a graduate of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme, Scotland’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday Coordinator and a judge for the Lantra Landbased and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. She is also a board member for Kinross Local Events Orgainisation, a group formed to provide activities and events to sustain a vibrant local community.
She has a first honours degree in Events Management and is a farmers daughter from a mixed livestock farm.
– Alison Macleod was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to Applecross, Wester Ross after graduating from Edinburgh University in 1983 and has lived there since. As well as bringing up a family of four sons, she has worked on a creel fishing boat, as a home-help, nursery auxiliary, barmaid and as an administrator on a submarine noise ranging base (she is not proud of that one but employment choices are very limited in remote rural areas). In 2006 she started working in community development, at first on Raasay, and in 2008 as a volunteer founder director of Applecross Community Company. Since 2011 she has been the local development officer for the Community Company, which owns and manages the local filling station, has installed a community broadband scheme and developed a recently completed hydro scheme, funded by selling shares through a Community Benefit Society.
– Gordon was born in Perth and now lives in the very rural south-western Scottish Borders. Recently retired, for many years he has been heavily involved in the Ettrick and Yarrow communities as the Chair of the Community Council and Director of their Development Company. He knows that 21st century communications are essential to ensure sustainable rural communities and has previously applied for and managed a LEADER rural broadband improvement project in Ettrick. He is a Project Board member for a large community broadband project in South Scotland and a very active member of the Borders LEADER LAG for the 2014-2020 period. Gordon is fully committed to supporting rural life, rural communities and the rural economy, and is actively campaigning for more rural affordable homes and workplaces.
Mary Williams Edgar
– Mary lives in the Braes of Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park. Her first career was as a BBC trained and the freelance television programme director specialising in news, current affairs and documentaries. As a trade union activist with BECTU, the broadcasting union, Mary was initially a lay Equalities Officer, undertaking the union’s shop stewards’ training course before becoming Chair of the Scottish Freelance Branch. In 1995 she was appointed to the Employment Tribunal Panel in Scotland as a lay member of the judiciary as an STUC nominee.
In 1997 she founded Buchanan E-Mail, an internet company designed to address the insecure employment and low wage problems encountered by rurally based women with caring responsibilities. This interest continues through her current work with Scottish Rural Action as Chair of the Business, Enterprise and Employment Working Group.
To mid-2017 Mary was a director of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust and a board member for the local Landscape Partnership tasked with delivering 3.6 million GBP worth of rural regeneration projects across the area in partnership with the CNPA, the Crown Estate and other conservation focused agencies.
Mary recently developed the “Women on Large Forestry Machines” project with the Scottish Forestry Contractors Association, set to address a recognised skills shortage by providing training, skills development and career progression for women in the rural workplace. She continues to campaign for economic and social decentralisation in Scotland to ensure that rural communities benefit directly from national initiatives.
– Lee is originally from Angus and studied at both Dundee and Aberdeen University’s before getting into work. Starting out for a new Development Trust in Midlothian, Lee moved into the public sector, working for Angus Council for 7 years and then Cairngorms National Park Authority until 2017, where he first came across SRA and the Rural Parliament. Lee now works in community regeneration in Dundee. Lee has an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and has been able to use the knowledge gained throughout his working career, supplemented with experience of a variety of rural and urban community development issues. Through Lee’s previous work, CNPA have been a strong supporter of Scottish Rural Action and the Rural Parliament, having been involved in all of the events so far.
– Sheena Boyd is a recently co-opted Director and will be explaining more soon.
An experienced community development consultant Helen has worked in Highlands for over twenty years and was co-opted as a Director of SRA in December 2017. She has delivered training in fundraising, bid writing and project development to community organisations across Scotland. For ten years Helen was at the heart of the regeneration of the town of Alness working with the community to revitalise the economy and empower local people to take ownership and responsibility for their community.
Helen took two years out from consultancy to lead the innovative Community Energy Scotland, Community Powerdown project. This project brought together 25 communities from across Scotland to implement initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions.
Initially working part-time on a self employed basis and now full-time employed she works as the Development Manager for Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust.
During her fours years at the Trust she has supported the board of directors to:
- Purchase Bonar Bridge post office thus saving it as a standalone business
- Renovate the post office house
- Gain planning permission for a terrace of three houses
- Built a new visitor attraction at the Falls of Shin, that attraction now employs 13 and since it opened in May 2017 has attracted over 90,000 visitors.
- Create a home energy efficiency service for people living in fuel poverty in East Sutherland
- Opened a community food stop to allow people to come together to share a meal to support social inclusion, health giving and friendship
- Regenerated the centre of the village of Ardgay, the Gateway to Sutherland by developing a business centre, new social housing and village square.
- Provided the community with an annual health and wellbeing programme
- Created a project management team which has won its first contract to deliver a capital project on behalf of another community organisation.
- By June 2018 over five million pound of investment into the Kyle of Sutherland.
Before establishing her community development business Helen was a committed volunteer. Helen is particularly proud of having established the young carers project which is now known as TYKES.