Chairman of Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Robert Copley is the owner of Pontefract based Farmer Copleys alongside his wife, Heather. With the desire for amazing food, fantastic local produce and a warm welcome, Farmer Copleys has also showcased through its Moo Café and award-winning farm shop, how Britain and especially Yorkshire can compete with the very best the culinary world has to offer. Rob previously worked in Dorset milking 300 cows, 3 times a day, before moving to an American Breeding Service, training farmers how to inseminate cattle & classifying cattle for a computer evaluation programme. He then became a nutritionist at HST Feeds and finally working for Thompsons of York. He has several other roles having recently been appointed Chairman of the Farm Retail Association (FRA), and has a passion for championing the people and businesses who grow and sell Great British produce.
York farmer Charles Mills was appointed as Honorary Show Director of the Great Yorkshire Show and its sister event, Countryside Live in 2015.
He farms at Woolas Grange, Appleton Roebuck which is a mixed arable rotation, with a 250 ewe flock as well as a small beef finishing enterprise.
Charles has held a number of roles within the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, including Joint Chief Cattle Steward and as a member of the Society’s Council, its governing body, since 2002.
He chairs the judging panel for the annual Tye Trophy Farming Awards which promotes farming excellence coupled with conservation practices.
Charles has played a significant role in the educational aspect of the Society’s work, serving on its Grants and Education Committee and running arable workshops at the free Countryside Days which attract 6,000 primary school children every year. He is also a member of the management committee of the Society’s Future Farmers of Yorkshire.
Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Allister Nixon joined the YAS as CEO in June 2022, replacing Nigel Pulling.
Allister is a chartered accountant and a highly experienced, successful and well-regarded business leader.
Previously the Chief Operating Officer at Castle Howard Estate Ltd for six years, he worked with the Howard family to drive the historic estate forward, helping to manage its portfolio of businesses including a holiday park, retail, catering, farming and forestry.
Allister also has significant and varied experience working within large multinational PLCs, and his previous positions include Global COO and CFO at Kantar Media Audiences, where he helped in the setting up of new business and services in several countries. He moved from London six years ago and now lives with his family in North Yorkshire
President of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Martin joined RS Cockerill York Ltd, with his father who established the family business in the 1930s. Their main activity was trading potatoes and farming began with a tenancy near Stamford Bridge in 1946.
In recent decades, they have concentrated on potato marketing and packing for retailers, while increasing the volume of potatoes for processing into crisps. They now farm around 500ha, grow a further 200ha of potatoes on rented land and Martin’s wife runs a suckler herd of Dexter cattle, supplying grass fed beef to London restaurants.
Following retirement as Managing Director in 2019, Martin lives on a small grassland farm on the edge of the North York Moors near Scarborough. He has been a Rotarian for many years and is also involved with the Samaritans.
Geoff Brown MBE
President Elect of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Geoff Brown MBE is co-founder and Managing Director of Ripon Farm Services, suppliers of agricultural machinery, equipment and support throughout Yorkshire and various neighbouring regions. Geoff worked as an agricultural contractor, then apprentice agricultural engineer at Glovers of Ripon. Glovers was acquired by Leeds-based Appleyard Group and Geoff went on to serve as the Ripon depot’s general manager.
When the group disposed of its agricultural division, Geoff teamed up with William Houseman MBE and Maurice Hymas to form Ripon Farm Services Ltd in 1982 and has overseen tremendous growth, recording annual revenues of £160m-plus. At the Great Yorkshire Show in 2019, Geoff was presented with a Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution award for outstanding contribution to agriculture. In June 2023, he was made an MBE for services to the rural economy.