Penny Edwards

Penny began her career in nature and woodland conservation, with an employment history spanning the Central Scotland Countryside Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Within the environmental field she has considerable experience of business and strategic planning, community engagement, volunteering and project and programme management, all of which were put to good use in her own environmental consultancy.

In her second career Penny established Falkirk Wood, a local timber processing company which provided characterful local hardwood timbers into local markets. This was sold as a going concern in 2008. She now runs Stoneybank Furniture Workshop, a small furniture and upholstery business.

Penny has worked in a voluntary capacity for a wide range of environmental organisations. She is a past Director of Transition Black Isle and is a past Chair and current Director of the Culbokie Community Trust which is working to develop a new community hub in the village.

Penny lives on the Black Isle and her spare time is spent in the garden and in the local countryside.

Martin Sherring

Most of Martin’s working life has been as a chartered accountant, including 9 years with Price Waterhouse (now PWC) in London and 12 years as Finance Director of Canvas Holidays. He also worked with Penny Edwards as a partner in Falkirk Wood, and when that was sold retrained, and now carries out consultancy work on domestic energy. Until recently he was heavily involved supervising the construction of his and Penny’s new Passive House, believed to be the most northerly one in Britain.

Martin is a past Chairman and current Director of Transition Black Isle and enjoys being outdoors, in the garden or the hills.

Nicholas Gubbins

Currently the Chief Executive of Community Energy Scotland, Nicholas has experience of a wide range of community and countryside programmes with a particular emphasis on public policy, programme initiation and management, business planning and social enterprise. While his recent career has focussed on community energy and renewables, he also has experience of knowledge transfer, social enterprise and economic development and he has a rounded background in sustainability, governance and law.

Nicholas is based on the Black Isle with his family. He cites his interests as: Baker; Biker; Runner; Cycling; Walking; Nature; Guitar.

Neil Sutherland

Neil is the business owner and Managing Director of MAKAR Ltd which delivers services in the built environment sector from design frameworks and master-plans to house design, manufacture and assembly. The company, employing around 25 people, focuses on locally sourced timber construction using progressive off-site techniques and aims to deliver high quality, healthy buildings along with environmental accountability.

Neil engages widely with the policy agenda on the build environment and has formal links with higher education establishments and the construction industry.

Based on the family farm just outside Inverness, Neil spends his weekends working with his wife on their organic vegetable farm.

Jo Cumming

Jo has a background in project management through her professional career as an occupational psychologist. Until she retired in 2018, she was a partner in Glentruim Change Agents which she co-founded in 2000. The business helped people in organisations solve problems, disseminate learning and deliver change projects. As a Partner in the Edinburgh based Keil Centre in the 1980’s Jo helped to grow the company to become one of the top applied psychology companies in the UK.

In the early 2000s Jo and her husband owned Laggan Stores, the local village shop that was threatened with closure. Over 8 years they created a ‘wee store with a big heart’, open 7 days and renowned for selling a wide range of products. Although privately owned, the shop was very much a social enterprise. 

Jo is a Community Councillor for Laggan. She is on the committee of the Badenoch & Strathspey Orienteering Club and organises large events for the club. She was a Director, then Chair of Laggan Forest Trust.

Jo lives in the community of Laggan and enjoys gardening, orienteering and cycling.

Stephen Carr

Stephen moved to the Highlands in 2012 to work for the Highland Council as Principal Policy Officer. As part of this, he has overseen the Council’s strategic approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change for three years. More recently he has been focusing on the Council’s policy approach to local democracy, poverty, community empowerment, and has been involved in the restructure of the Council. Before moving to the Highlands, Stephen completed a PhD in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, studying low-cost ways to remove pollutants from water. Before this he completed a Masters in hydrology, and he has a BSc in Physical Geography from the University of Newcastle.

Stephen grew up on a family-run farm in rural Norfolk. He is passionate about the Highlands, hill walking, and cricket.

Emma Whitham

Emma is the founder of MOO Food, a community led food charity based in Muir of Ord.  Currently Emma divides her time between managing MOO Food projects, inspiring and empowering others to grow their future through her role as a community food and sustainability consultant and enjoying family life with her husband and three teenage children in Scatwell, Strathconon.

Previous to this Emma had a career in climate change and sustainable development policy and environmental project management.  Her greatest passions after her family are growing food, cycling, yoga and reading.


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