Cranfield University 1997 - Honorary Graduates
Lord De Ramsey
John Ailwyn Fellowes, 4th Baron of Ramsey Abbey, Huntingdon, was born in 1942. He was educated at Maidwell Hall, Northampton, Winchester College and Writtle Institute of Agriculture.
After leaving Writtle, Lord De Ramsey took over the tenancy of a 155 acre farm which he farmed for three years. He then became a Director of the family company which he built up with his father eventually farming 7,500 acres, and letting 5,000 acres, together with residential, commercial and industrial property. The land includes some of the finest Grade 1 soils in the country, part of the Fens, but also land which is very difficult to manage because of its acidity and proneness to erosion. Lord De Ramsey’s responsibility for this extensive area of farmland on a variety of soils has given him a comprehensive knowledge of East of England farming, its successes and its difficulties. In 1993 this was recognised when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. His experience with the British agricultural scene has led to several other appointments including: Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Farmers Union (1982), Director of the Shuttleworth Trust (1982-1995), Member of the Governing Body of the Institute of Plant Science Research (1984-1989), President of the Country Landowners Association (1991- 1993), Director of Strutt and Parker (Farms) Limited (from 1993), Crown Estate Commissioner (from 1994) and Director of the Lawes Agricultural Trust (from 1996).
Lord De Ramsey’s interests are much broader than that of agriculture alone. For 21 years he was a Director of the Cambridge Water Company and its Chairman from 1985-1989. His Presidency of the Association of Drainage Authorities from 1991-1994 recognised thirty years of practical experience in Land Drainage and Sea Defence. As he said at the time, “farming below sea-level helps to concentrate the mind”. In 1994 he was appointed Chairman of the Environment Agency Advisory Committee whose responsibility was to advise on the establishment of the Environment Agency, bringing together The National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution and the Waste Regulation Authorities. When the Environment Agency was formed in 1995, he was invited to take on its Chairmanship. The setting up of the Environment Agency was a landmark in the history of the country, signalling the growing importance of the protection and management of the environment. Thus Lord De Ramsey has a major influence on agriculture and the environment both of which are central pillars of the research and teaching here in the School of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Cranfield University. Lord De Ramsey is married to Alison (née Birkmyre) and has four children. He has a wide range of interests which include fishing, motor racing, golf and fine art.