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.

Jeff Beer OBE FRAgS

Jeff has built up a substantial Agricultural Merchants and Agronomy Company. He previously farmed in South Africa for eight years and presently owns and is improving a farm in South Devon with some 400 ewes.

Jeff was a magistrate for 33 years but is now retired. He has had a broad range of experiences including Family, Licensing, Adult and Youth as well as Chairing many panels.

He was Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Magistrates Courts Committee during amalgamation (proving oil and water could mix). He also served on the Court of The Worshipful Company of Farmers and Chaired their Education Committee.

Jeff now allows a highly respected organisation to use his farm to help young people through difficult times e.g. they have been expelled, excluded from full time education or going through the Youth Justice system.

Currently a Governor of the Cornwall College Group, Jeff chairs the Audit Committee and has special responsibility for our Land Based Colleges, Duchy and Bicton. This enabled him to introduce Highground to Bicton College where the Rural Weeks are running.

He instigated the introduction of Highground to HMP Dartmoor where the pilot for Prisoners with a land-based interest proved so successful.

Jeff is now a Member of HighGround’s Development Board.

Married to Fiona, he has four offspring. Tom a Chartered Accountant living in London. Charlotte an Occupational Therapist living in New Zealand. Rachel a Doctor living in Bristol and Oliver who is a Social Worker in America.

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!

David Hammond

As a former Commanding Officer of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, he has extensive operational command and staff experience gained worldwide in the most demanding environments.

Since leaving the Army in 2007 he has operated at board level in the overseas security sector as well as in the sustainable energy sector where he has raised funding for diverse overseas energy-related projects as well as overseeing Intellectual Property Rights development programmes and business start-ups. He returned to the UK and his home county of Monmouthshire in 2010 and he assumed his current as Head of Engagement for the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for Wales.

Away from work he is actively involved in the voluntary youth sector. He was Commandant of the Dyfed and Glamorgan Army Cadet Force from 2012-2015 and became the Colonel Cadets for Wales in June 2015. He has been a trustee on the Executive Board of the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS) and is currently a trustee of the Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust.

Simon Higgens MBE

Simon Higgens left the British Army in December 2012 after 29 years’ service. A Royal Engineer, he deployed on operations to Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His final appointment in the Army was Commanding Officer of Glasgow and Strathclyde UOTC where he was involved in establishing a comprehensive and broad network of support for Service Leavers, Veterans and their families in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Upon leaving the Army, Simon worked for Babcock International Group as a Senior Programme Manager in their railway business, where he was responsible for Continuous Improvement, Innovation and Business Development. He also led Babcock’s tender for a £500M programme of works with Network Rail. He has recently joined ISS Labour Ltd, a dynamic and expanding supplier of rail support services, as their CEO and will be looking to draw upon the qualities and skills of Service Leavers to fill new positions within the company as it grows.

Neil Huck

Adrian Peters

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.


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