Development Board

Our Development Board is made up of subject matter experts, some of whom are associated with the process of transition from military to civilian life and others who have a wide knowledge of rural industries.

Rhodri Atkins

Rhodri is the Lead Implementation and Success Manager for Axon (formally Taser International) in the UK, working predominantly with Police Forces in the UK and Europe to help them enhance their capability though the use of integrated technology.

He studied Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of Gloucestershire before commissioning in to the Royal Artillery in 2003. He completed tours of Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2006 and 2009. He retired as a Captain in 2012 after working for the Commander Royal Artillery within HQ 3rd (UK) Division.

Upon leaving the Army Rhodri worked within the major event planning sector, participating in the London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Baku 2015, 1st European Games. He also worked on a number of mass participation events such as the London Marathon, Prudential Ride London, as well as large spectator events alongside Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi, the RFU and Jockey Club.

He now lives in Northumberland with his wife and daughter on their smallholding and his interests include field sports, golf and sailing.


Jim spent thirty years working in the Built Environment, mostly as a Chartered Building Surveyor.  In 2009 he moved “up north” to Glasgow.  He now “preaches” what he once practiced, at Glasgow Caledonian University, (GCU).

In 2013, Jim instigated a project to maximise the potential of those who have served, irrespective of rank, branch or length of service. Inevitably the project has grown many legs, both in supporting Veterans and liaison with all sectors of the military family. His current roles include; Chairman of the HEFE (Higher and Further Education) Veterans Champions’ Network; Veterans and Armed Forces Champion for GCU; Member of Lowland RFCA; Vice-Chairman of Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Military Education Committee (MEC), Executive Member of COMEC (UK Council of MECs); Member of Firm Base Steering Group for Scotland; Member of the Veterans and Armed Forces Cross Party Group for the Scottish Parliament; and of course, HighGround Development Board.

With a tiny population set against huge tracts of land (and water), Jim sees Scotland as ideal HighGround territory. Jim lives in Helensburgh, (with excellent views of the comings and goings from HM Naval Base Clyde).

Zoe Elliott

Zoe has worked in the racing industry for 20 years and is currently the Head of Careers Marketing & Recruitment at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), leading the Careers Marketing Strategy for the horseracing industry via the ‘careersinracing’ brand and marketing campaigns. Graduating from Coventry University in 1996 with an Equine Business Degree and subsequently a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing, she started her career in racing at the BHA running marketing campaigns from Racehorse Ownership Marketing to ‘Racegoer’ marketing. Zoe then spent ten years as a freelance consultant working for a variety of racing governing bodies, trade associations, charities and commercial organisations handling a wide range of marketing projects, before returning to the BHA in her current role. Having competed across a number equestrian of disciplines in her spare time and generally being involved with horses since childhood she has many contacts across a range of equestrianism beyond horseracing and is passionate about communicating the opportunities to work in this sector from every angle from, groundsman and gardeners to event logistics to broadcast engineers!

Robert Honan

Geraint Richards

After studying Forestry at University in Bangor, Geraint spent four years working for the Forestry Commission in the Weald Forest District. He took up his current post, as Head Forester for the Duchy of Cornwall, in 1996 and his role now includes the management of all the woodlands and forests across the Duchy’s estate plus considerable involvement in a number of forestry-related initiatives and organisations. In recent years Geraint has become involved in promoting learning and development in the forestry (and wider land-based) sector; he works closely with many organisations including the Forestry Commission, the Institute of Chartered Foresters, the Royal Forestry Society, Scottish Land & Estates and The Prince’s Trust, to name but a few. Geraint also has a strong connection with the Canadian Institute of Forestry, of which he is an honorary lifetime member.

Chris Shepherd

Chris works closely with HighGround in co-ordinating the delivery and content of Rural Weeks run out of Bicton College.

Chris has worked in education for 28 years since graduating in 1991 from Seale Hayne Agriculture College in Newton Abbot, Devon. He has always had a passion for the land based sector with his mother being from a farming family and his father a Veterinary Surgeon. During his career within the Cornwall College Group, incorporating Bicton College and Duchy College, he has lectured in Agriculture and Farm Business management. In his role as Work Based Learning Manager he was responsible for the College’s delivery of Apprenticeship programmes across the Land Based Sector. Main accomplishments include, achieving a Grade 1 Outstanding award across all Work Based Learning Measures in the OFSTED inspection of May 2010, representing Landex (association of Land Based Colleges across the UK) on the employer management group in developing the new Apprenticeship standards, and having a strong record of  designing training and education programmes with employers across the sector.

Chris and his wife Angela have recently celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary.  They live in West Cornwall and have two sons, Robert 18 and Daniel 16. Hobbies include gardening and walking with Bailey the labrador.


The following subject areas will be represented on the Development Board:

Assistance Dogs
Countryside & Environment
Career Transition Partnership
Fishing & Country Sports
Land Based Work Experience
Military Charity Liaison
Bicton College/Rural Weeks
Professional Career Development Inc Standards & Quality as well as Work Experience
Rural Skills Training
Viticulture & Cider Making