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News > Family Announcements > Remembered with Affection - Caroline Ward née Drummond (HH 1981)

Remembered with Affection - Caroline Ward née Drummond (HH 1981)

Obituary published in The Chain Magazine 2022
Obituary published in The Chain Magazine 2022

24 June 1963 - 23 May 2022

Written by colleagues at LEAF.

Not originally from a farming background (her father was a diver), Caroline worked on a range of farms in the UK and across the world and, after graduating from Seale Hayne Agriculture College, joined the MDS (Management Development Services) graduate scheme as one of its first recruits. She was greatly inspired by every farm she worked on and soon learnt about the skills and capability of the farmers and the sheer joy of being involved with nature.

Prior to joining LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Caroline worked as an agronomy lecturer and forklift truck driving instructor at Shuttleworth Agricultural College.

LEAF represented everything Caroline fundamentally believed in - the importance of science-based farming, taking the best of modern technology and traditional methods and working with nature not against it. Caroline or ‘CD’ as she was known to so many, tirelessly championed the development and uptake of more sustainable, regenerative farming. She was also passionate about bridging the gap between farmers and the public. She led LEAF from its beginning in 1991 and for over 30 years was the CEO and driving force behind the charity.

Caroline was first and foremost all about people: forging partnerships, bringing different groups together to work on shared objectives and creating alliances and deep friendships across the whole farming industry. She was a giant in the world of farming and received numerous accolades during her long and accomplished career including:

  • Woman of the Year in recognition of her achievements and contribution to society (2007)
  • Ecological Engagement Award from the British Ecological Society (2009)
  • MBE for services to the agriculture industry (2009)
  • Honorary Doctorate from Harper Adams University (2013)
  • Frank Arden Nuffield Scholarship (2013)
  • Honorary Fellowship of the Society for the Environment (2014)
  • British Farming Awards: Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture Award (2017)
  • Women Economic Forum’s ‘Women of the Decade’ Award for sustainable farming and her achievements and contribution to sustainability and corporate leadership (2019)
  • Farmers’ Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award (2019)

Caroline was rooted in the farming industry and was instrumental in the development of so many early industry initiatives. It was her conviction that the pursuit of more sustainable farming had to be farmer-led and practical, grounded in rigorous scientific research, that underpinned the formation of the LEAF Network. Today this includes 39 leading Demonstration Farms and 14 world class Innovation Centres who collectively drive forward Caroline’s ‘science into practice’ vision.

It was Caroline’s tireless energy, determination and strength of character that led to her setting up the UK’s first environmental assurance system, LEAF Marque. She believed strongly that consumers should have access to food that was produced on farms that were raising the environmental bar by managing soils and  water more sustainably, conserving energy, reducing waste and enhancing biodiversity: practising Integrated Farm Management. Her unwavering belief in the power of certification to bring about real and lasting changes to global production lies as the very heart of LEAF Marque, which now operates in 19 countries and certifies some 48% of UK-produced fruit and vegetables.

One of her most shining legacies will be establishing and driving forwards farming’s annual open day, LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS), which, for the five years pre-Covid, positively impacted over half a million people each year.

Caroline was also passionate about educating young minds and oversaw the successful merger of FACE (Farming and Countryside Education) with LEAF, forming LEAF Education.

The farming industry salutes Caroline and she will remain forever as the LEAF Lady. We have lost an inspirational leader, but we are all determined to continue her legacy with the same drive and energy that she put into all of her work. There really are no words to express how she will be missed within LEAF and across the farming industry; but most deeply by her family, Phil and Gabrielle.

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