DAERA welcomes the appointment of four new members to CAFRE College Advisory Group

Date published: 08 January 2020

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs today announced the appointment of four new members to the CAFRE College Advisory Group (CAG).


The role of the CAG is to provide advice at a strategic and operational level to the management team of CAFRE.  The group was established in January 2007 and reports to the College Director, Martin McKendry.  In carrying out its work, the group takes full account of Departmental policies and strategies.

Esther Skelly-Smith, Malcolm Emery, Nicholas Cowan and Roy Lyttle have been appointed for a three-year period.

The Permanent Secretary, Dr Denis McMahon, said: “I welcome the appointments of Dr Skelly-Smith, Mr Emery, Mr Cowan and Mr Lyttle.

The Advisory Group plays an important role in helping CAFRE deliver excellent services to the farming and agri-food sectors and I’m sure that the wealth of experience brought by the new members will enable CAFRE to continue to be recognised as a world leader in agri-food education provision.”

Dr McMahon thanked the outgoing members, Claire Moore, John Chambers, Jason Podris and Teresa Canavan for their work on the College Advisory Group.  He also recognised the important work that this group has done over the past number of years.

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors

1. The College Advisory Group:

  • Makes recommendations regarding the development of the College Strategic Business Plan to meet the needs of industry, participants and the community in line with the DAERA Vision and Strategic Goals and its policies on education and technology transfer;
  • Monitors the programmes delivered by the College and makes recommendations regarding their relevance to the DAERA Strategic Goals and their effectiveness in meeting the needs of industry, participants and the community;
  • Monitors the delivery of the College Strategic Business Plan, including achievement of physical and financial targets, and value for money and makes recommendations on how performance could be improved;
  • Advises the College on the marketing and promotion of programmes to secure optimum industry and community involvement in the development, delivery and uptake of programmes.

2. Dr Skelly-Smith will represent the Equine sector.  She is a practicing Equine Veterinary Surgeon and is the practice principal of Shanaghan Veterinary Services.  Previously she worked within the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, the Gleno Veterinary Centre and the Equine Dental Clinic in Hillsborough.  Dr Skelly-Smith is a partner in her family farm and has successfully led the diversification of the farm into sport horse breeding.  She has competed at national level in a range of equine disciplines including dressage and side saddle.  She is also the Honorary Secretary and equine advisor to the North of Ireland Veterinary Association and the Association of Veterinary Surgeons practicing in Northern Ireland.  Dr Skelly-Smith has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years.

3. Mr Emery will represent the International Relations Sector.  He has 25 years’ experience in business both as an owner and as a manager and has extensive experience at a senior level in the retail and commercial sectors.  He previously held positions of CEO of NI Seafood and Rural Support, Development Director of Utility wise and Business Development Director of Carillion Energy Services.  Mr Emery graduated from Greenmount College in 1984 and holds an MSc in Agri-food Business Development from the Ulster University.  Throughout his career he has developed a range of industry contacts across the world including Australia, Hong Kong, India and France.  Mr Emery has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years.

4. Mr Cowan will represent the Environment in the Supply Chain Sector.  He is an experienced operations manager working within the land based and agri-food industries in both the private and public sectors, throughout the UK.  He is currently the Group Environmental Manager for Tayto Group Ltd and has previously held positions in Northern Ireland Water and the Monymusk Land Company Ltd, Aberdeen.  He holds a degree in Rural Business Management from the University of Aberdeen/Scottish Agricultural College.  Mr Cowan has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years.

5. Mr Lyttle will represent the Production Horticulture sector.  He owns and manages his farm near Newtownards where he grows, processes and packs a range of vegetables crops for supply to the retail multiples and also to local independents.  Mr Lyttle is a member of the Agricultural Wages Board, has been a past chair of the UFU Vegetable Committee and is a member of the Northern Ireland Horticulture Forum.  He is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for Regent House Grammar School and Chairman of Loughries Integrated Primary School Board of Governors.  In 2016 he won the Wildlife Friendly Farmer of the year award at the prestigious Farming Life/Danske Bank awards.  Mr Lyttle has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the last five years.

6. These appointments were made in accordance with the Departments statutory equality duties under section 75.  Also, in line with the Department’s published commitments in its Audit of Inequalities, DAERA took all necessary steps to address under-representation on its Advisory Group.

7. The period of appointment is initially for three years.  A payment is made for each meeting attended and expenses are available for travelling costs and childcare costs.

8. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

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9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DAERA Press Office (mailto:pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk).  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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