What does your role within land agency involve?
My main role at Cooke & Arkwright is estate management, which is all about asset management and meeting clients’ objectives. In a rural setting this often involves managing a residential, agricultural, commercial, sporting, mineral and forestry portfolio, with some elements being let, others in hand. Another important part of my work involves valuations of rural land and assets for all sorts of purposes. I also have responsibility for selling rural land and farms, and I’m currently involved in the sale of some land near Rhiwderin. I am also gearing up to bring some further land to the market soon.
Does your role within Cooke & Arkwright differ much from your previous work?
I think my role here has become more specialised than at my previous role. The client base has also shifted away from purely private family estates to be a mixture of landed/family estates, institutional clients and private companies, all of which have differing managerial requirements and objectives. But the base work of estate management, valuations and agency hasn’t changed.
The other major difference is that I’m using the Welsh language in my role here whereas naturally it wasn’t needed in my last role in Cumbria. I enjoy being able to use my first language in a professional capacity and I’ve come across a number of people who have been far happier and more comfortable speaking in Welsh, as I do.
How much has Covid or Brexit affected your work or your clients?
I joined Cooke & Arkwright at the start of the third national lockdown in December 2020. I had a week in the office then both Cardiff and Bridgend offices were shut. It has been somewhat challenging joining at a time like this, but I’ve been offered a lot of support and help from everyone which has made the transition all the easier. Meeting clients and tenants has certainly slowed down, but when in a rural setting its easier to have a meeting in a shed or on a yard where there’s plenty of space to socially distance.
I don’t think the rural sector has been affected too badly by Brexit at the minute as prices appear to be staying relatively stable. However, this could well be to do with the push towards eating locally produced food during lockdown. Working from home has meant people have had more time in the evenings to cook, so instead of the usual rushed 30-minute meal people can take time to cook better prepared meals with better ingredients. Hopefully this will be a trend that stays on after lockdown.
Where does your job take you?
Our client base stretches from Aberystwyth down to Pembrokeshire and across to Oxfordshire, so anywhere in between. I’m fortunate to have clients in very scenic locations in the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan. I’m looking forward to seeing more of South Wales when the restrictions are lifted.
Is there anything particularly unusual or different in this role that you haven’t come across previously?
I’ve been involved with some filming agreements on the Dunraven Estate. They own an incredible stretch of coastline that’s quite popular for all sorts of filming purposes, from adverts and documentaries, to dramas and films. This is something I’ve not been involved with at all before so very interesting.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your spare time?
My main interests are shooting, fishing, gardening, history and politics. History and politics are subjects that have always interested me, and both are so entwined, but I also follow current politics with interest.
When at home I also help with our small flock of about 100 sheep. I’m trying to be as productive as I can with the smaller garden in Cardiff and I’ll hopefully be pulling up potatoes and picking some tomatoes and chillies in the summer!
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