An event to celebrate the achievements of Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) over the past 21 years was held last week at Alnwick Castle.
The celebration also marked the launch of a £2.5million fund-raising campaign to grow CRE and help secure its position as a world leader in rural economy research.
CRE was established in 1992 through a public appeal in memory of the 10th Duke of Northumberland, a man with a lifelong interest in, and influence over, agriculture and rural affairs and the first Chancellor of Newcastle University.
A committee of volunteers – including his son, the present Duke and chaired by Viscount Ridley, who was chancellor of the university at the time – raised £1million to establish the centre.
It was this independence from Government funding which allowed the CRE research team to scrutinise, question and advise on some of the biggest issues facing rural communities both here in the UK and around the world.
In the last two decades, CRE has played a significant role in shaping the infrastructure for rural policy in the UK, including the establishment of Defra, the Commission for Rural Communities and several rural white papers.
In Europe, it had a major impact on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
And last week, CRE’s reputation as a driving force for research into rural economies and societies was recognised with the award of a Queen’s Anniversary Prize.
Guy Garrod, director of CRE, said: “It was fantastic to mark our 21st anniversary with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize.
“Now we need to look ahead to the next 21 years and beyond.”