We have created a social enterprise called a Community Benefit Society (CBS), which applies commercial strategies to maximise community and environmental benefits. This short video explains our governance approach.
We received excellent help from the Plunkett Foundation’s ‘Make Local Woodlands Work’ programme, which offered us critical support in deciding on a suitable legal framework for the project.
We decided to become a Community Benefit Society (CBS) because it is the most democratic option for a project like this. Anyone can become a member as long as they buy one £50 share. Each member gets one vote, so no one person can ever dominate the decision-making process.
Initial Members Shares were offered in Autumn 2018. We currently have around 50 Members and hold an Annual Members Meeting each autumn.
The CBS Management Committee
Members of the CBS vote for (and can stand to be) members of the Management Committee which makes decisions on and directs the strategy and day-to-day activities of the woodland. Current Members of the CBS are:
Craig Parker – Chairperson
In his day job Craig Parker is the Head of the Hybrid Cloud business across Europe for Fujitsu Product Business, a Global IT Product and Services company. He is responsible for all aspects of the Hybrid Cloud business including strategy, sales, marketing, product development, partner, and service management. Fujitsu’s Global vision is to create a human-centric intelligent society. Fujitsu is looking to face many long-term societal challenges, from climate change to an ageing population and is committed to be a responsible business that will help to build a more sustainable world. Through Fujitsu’s Future Leader program Craig has been appointed as a Trustee on the Board of a Charity – Energy Solutions. Energy Solution’s vision is to eradicate Energy Poverty. 10% of the UK population can’t afford to pay their energy bill. Craig started his volunteering here, in 2013. The reward of making an impact on wider society has spurred Craig on. Since then he has been a Trustee of Advice4Renters (A4R) for 3 years. A4R is a 30-year-old charity helping tenants with a range of housing issues. Craig joined Laughton Greenwood CBS in January 2021, to bring together his passion for the environment and with his desire to improve the local community.
Craig was co-opted onto the Management Committee in January 2021
Kris Szaniawski – Secretary
I am a Lewes-based woodland volunteer with a love of the Weald and the South Downs. Having got to know the local woods through voluntary work and outdoor learning courses I came to appreciate their beauty and it made me want to become more closely involved in the community that manages them and the exciting regeneration project that is Laughton Greenwood CBS. I was lucky to grow up in a family that had a close affinity with woods and wildlife. At a formative age I visited one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe, this glimpse into a parallel world remains a strong memory and has made me passionate about supporting biodiversity, wildlife recovery and resilience. I’m a member of the Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Royal Forestry Society and regularly attend woodland management training courses run by the RFS, Plumpton College and others.
Kris was co-opted onto the Management Committee in June 2021
She is Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd, organisations that aim to transform education and health through nature. Laughton Greenwood CBS brings together all my passions – love of the land, opportunity to increase access for vulnerable groups and be part of an exciting pioneer regeneration project that we hope will be championed in multiple ways! I am an advocate for the integration of environmental, education and health and wellbeing services, and am committed to finding ways to live well with nature.
Marina Robb was voted onto the MC in 2018.
I was brought up on the outskirts of a Lancashire town and was very fortunate to have access to woods and moorlands. At age 17, I came to London as a Civil Servant, then joined the airline BEA/BA and later formed a Travel Management company. My interests then were mainly sea-going, walking and cycling. Having retired, I joined the now Laughton Green CBS.Two years later, I still enjoy being involved in a project that is restoring these splendid woods, which also satisfies my interest in birds and wildlife (RSPB). I feel privileged to be part of a keen, bright team, particularly as l am not on the doorstep, being domiciled in London or Hastings.
Gordon was voted into the MC in 2018.
Kia Ora! I’m Hannah, 23, and on an OE from New Zealand after finishing my Development Studies degree last year. Since being in the UK I’ve developed a passion for gardening, and I’ve been volunteering at Rodmell Food Forest since December 2019. I’ve been studying two RHS papers to improve my knowledge in the field since May. My motivation to join the CBS is to contribute to the preservation of green spaces, boost the CV, and interest in the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors and connected to nature. I’m excited to meet new people and get stuck into future projects!
Hannah was co-opted onto the MC in the summer of 2020