Rural Support appoints Co Tyrone native as new CEO

Rural Support, which helps farmers and farm families in developing their farm businesses as well as providing helpline support for those in crisis situations, has appointed Veronica Morris, as its new Chief Executive.

Veronica Morris: CE; . John Thompson: Chair, Veronica Morris: CE, and Jude McCann, Outgoing CE.
Veronica Morris: CE; . John Thompson: Chair, Veronica Morris: CE, and Jude McCann, Outgoing CE.

After spending the past two decades working at a senior level in non-profit and charitable organisations across Northern Ireland, including most recently as Director of Fundraising for Charis Cancer Care, Veronica takes over from Jude McCann, who has moved on to lead Farming Community Network in England and Wales, after seven years at Rural Support.

Veronica, who is from Killeeshil, a small rural community between Dungannon and Ballygawley, and whose extended family have been farmers for several generations, is looking forward to guiding Rural Support through its ambitious five-year strategic plan to the benefit of farmers and farm families across the region. Veronica, who is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, has substantial expertise in supporting organisations and their teams through transitional change and in a personal capacity has also spent the last decade as a mentor for individuals experiencing physical and mental health challenges.

John Thompson, Chairman of Rural Support said: “We are very pleased that Veronica was able to join us at this pivotal time for the farming community. She brings significant director level experience in marketing, communications, business development and fundraising, which will not only strengthen the profile of the organisation but also help us develop our services and sustainability, so Rural Support can continue to provide help on the ground where it is most needed.”

Speaking of her new appointment Veronica said: “I am delighted to have joined Rural Support and to have the opportunity to lead such a strong team of staff, mentors and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide meaningful help to farmers and farm families through solution-based mentoring, training and emotional support. Whilst uncertainty isn’t a new phenomenon for farm families, additional factors like Brexit, unpredictable weather patterns, environmental pressures, and financial difficulties have made life extremely challenging for many people and families operating in the sector.

“Rural Support’s services have become an important – and free - tool in helping farm businesses to weather the storms, as well as improving resilience for the farmer and the whole family, particularly in area of mental health and wellbeing.

“I am very much looking forward to working in this fantastic organisation and developing services further to best meet the needs of the farming community.”

Rural Support was set up in 2002 and has an active team of approximately 60 working across Northern Ireland to support farmers and farm families who are facing challenges in their farm businesses and the knock on effects on mental health and wellbeing.