The Arkleton Trust is a small family charity set up in 1977 to study new approaches to rural education and to improve understanding between rural policy makers, academics, practitioners and rural people. The Trust operates throughout the world and at various times sponsors research, holds invited seminars on key issues, and publishes reports or key position papers that merit wider dissemination.

The Trust funds a small number of Fellowships each year for individuals who seek to explore key rural development themes prioritised by the Board of the Trust. Frequently the work of these Fellows will be shared at an intensive ‘think-tank’ meeting of invited individuals who may be community practitioners, academics, civil servants, business people, or employees of NGO’s. These seminars are used to distil the collective experience of the group, which is then shared through a report issued on the Trust’s website. The Arkleton Trust has been a pioneer in the identification of many new areas and themes in sustainable rural development and aims to provide a strategic link between the practice, the policy, and the study of rural development innovation at an international level.

The Trust was set up by John Higgs and David Moore, together with sundry others. The seminars were held, in the early years, at Arkleton, the Higgs’s home in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. David sadly died at the early age of 41 and John died in 1986. The Trust is now run by Trustees, of whom Caroline Higgs is Chairman (succeeding her mother Elizabeth who retired in 2004) and Nicola Swan is the Executive Officer.

John Higgs had a varied career in the academic world, FAO in Rome, and finally as Secretary of the Duchy of Cornwall for whom he was working when he died at the age of 62. David Moore had a most successful career with Oxfam latterly in FAO. John Bryden, who retired in 2008 after 28 years as Programme Director, was also joint Director of The Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research at Aberdeen University, and has just retired as Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands Policy Web; he is currently Chairman of the International Rural Network.

The main aim of The Trust is still to bring together people with rural concerns, to discuss and exchange views. Sometimes the findings of these meetings are published, together with lectures given at these seminars. In recent yeaars the Trust has been awarding fellowships to people primarily from grass roots organisations to exchnge knowledge through study trips.

The Trust also handles three small, memorial funds which give awards within the remit of the current programme: The David Moore is for a young person engaged in the study of rural development. This biennial award is to encourage practical investigation or research, but is currently on hold.

The John Higgs fund and the Bernard Conyers funds have recently been incorporated into the current theme of the Trust’s work. The Bernard Conyers fund gives fellowships which are clearly outlined and focussed on the current work and the John Higgs fund is used in an advisory capacity.

Arkleton Trust synopsis read by Caroline Higgs.