New Chair for Cornish Mutual

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South West rural insurer Cornish Mutual has announced a new Chair for its Board of Directors. Jeremy Oatey has been appointed to the position as Ian Pawley retires after ten years in the post.

Founded in 1903, Cornish Mutual insures farms and rural businesses across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Being a mutual organisation means the company is owned by its customers - its Members. The Board is responsible for governance and ensuring it continues to offer the very best service to Members.

The appointment was agreed at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), an event which is usually attended by Members but which this year was conducted through a conference call as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Jeremy Oatey has served as a Non-Executive Director since 2014. With an extensive background in farming, he is a passionate figure within the agricultural community. Born and bred in Cornwall, Jeremy is the owner of South East Cornwall based contract farming company Agricola Growers Ltd and was named Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the year 2013.

Jeremy said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chair at Cornish Mutual. The company has a long history, solid values and is a very well respected organisation across the South West. I look forward to working with the Board and the entire team in continuing and further developing the business and the important role it plays in our rural communities.

“Ian has made an outstanding contribution as Chairman. He has led the Board through a period of change, helping Cornish Mutual successfully adapt to the different needs of the agricultural community.

“My background in farming, combined with the knowledge I have gained as a long-standing Board member, will enable me to help steer the company in the direction which best suits the new requirements of its Members. As we seek to adapt to the needs of farmers and business owners in the modern world, I am committed to maintaining the values of honesty and transparency for which Cornish Mutual has always been known.”

Outgoing Chair Ian Pawley has lived and worked in Cornwall throughout his professional life. A former managing partner of South West law firm Stephens Scown, he joined the Cornish Mutual Board in 2009, bringing with him an extensive knowledge of modern legal and business requirements including corporate governance. Ian was elected Deputy Chair in 2010 and Chair in 2011.

Commenting on his retirement, Ian Pawley said “I would like to congratulate Jeremy Oatey on his appointment as Chair and wish him well for his period of office.  

“I feel privileged to have been a Director and Chair of Cornish Mutual. The company is in excellent condition, having benefited from the commitment of former Managing Director Alan Goddard and new Managing Director Peter Beaumont, working alongside previous Chairs and Board members.  

“The company has grown considerably in recent years, but has maintained its ethos of placing the interests of Members at the forefront of its plans.  One key achievement has been becoming a Chartered Insurer, an accolade which reflects the dedication of people working across the company. I am confident that Peter Beaumont will support Jeremy and the Board to ensure the future success of Cornish Mutual.”

Cornish Mutual Managing Director Peter Beaumont said: “I would like to thank Ian for the leadership of the Board, his support for all the Cornish Mutual team and the contribution he has made over many years to the continued growth and success of the company.

“Given Ian’s expertise and experience, his Chairmanship was ideally timed.  Since the financial crisis there has been a long period of regulatory change which Ian has been instrumental in navigating.  We are similarly fortunate to have Jeremy in a position to take up the role at a point in time when we see challenge and opportunity in store for our farming Members. 

“As a successful and active commercial farmer himself, Jeremy’s leadership of the Board coincides with a period during which we will ensure our offering supports our Members through this change and I am looking forward to working with him enormously.”