Autumn Newsletter

Content

Our New Managing Director

We are delighted to announce Peter Beaumont as Cornish Mutual’s new Managing Director. Peter has been our Finance and Operations Director for more than a decade. Subject to regulatory approval, he will take over the role from Alan Goddard, who is due to retire after 15 years as Managing Director.

Peter joined Cornish Mutual in 2009, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the IT and financial services sectors. He has worked closely with Alan and the senior management team to grow and develop the company.

Peter (pictured left) said: "Over the last ten years, I have had the privilege of supporting Alan and working with the whole Cornish Mutual team to make the company what it is today. As Managing Director I now have the opportunity to build on our strengths and ensure we continue to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of our Members.

"There are challenges ahead for the insurance industry and for our Members in the agricultural sector. The strength and commitment of our fantastic people gives me every confidence that we are extremely well placed to meet these challenges and ensure we continue to offer a distinctive and high quality service to all our Members."

Alan said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my 15 years as Managing Director of Cornish Mutual. We have embraced new technologies and adapted to regulatory changes and new opportunities. Crucially, we have broadened our offer to meet the needs of our changing Membership base, which now includes a number of exciting rural businesses alongside more traditional farms.

"Despite these significant developments, we have remained true to our roots in the agricultural sector and our mutual values of fairness, honesty and transparency.

"After 15 years at the helm, it is time for me to pass the reins on to Peter, whose experience with Cornish Mutual makes him ideally placed to drive the company forward while retaining its unique values and approach."

Cornish Mutual Chairman Ian Pawley said: "I would like to congratulate Peter on his appointment and would also like to thank Alan for his commitment to Cornish Mutual over the last 15 years.

"Peter takes over the leadership of a company that is very well placed to meet the needs of its Members in farms and rural businesses across the South West. Supported by an excellent team, I have no doubt that Peter will provide the leadership to continue the company’s strategy of sustainable growth. Importantly, he is committed to the company’s ethos of putting its Members at the heart of everything it does."

Celebrating seven consecutive years as a Chartered Insurer

Cornish Mutual has been named a Chartered Insurer for the seventh consecutive year. We are the only firm based west of Bristol, and the UK’s only mutual insurance company, to hold the accolade, which is awarded by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) to represent the highest standards in the insurance sector.

There are more than 900 general insurance companies in the UK, but only 34 have been awarded chartered status from the CII. In 2012, Cornish Mutual became the first mutual insurance company in the UK and the first insurer in the South West to achieve Chartered status. We also have two Fellows of the CII and over 70 CII qualified employees among our teams.

Insurance Director Paul Mahon said: "We are extremely proud to have retained our Chartered Insurer status for seven consecutive years. This stamp of quality is only awarded to a select number of insurance companies and represents us meeting the very highest standards.

"As a mutual organisation, which is owned by and run on behalf of our Members, our values are closely aligned to the CII’s ethos of putting the customer first. Our chartered status gives our Members that reassurance that we will provide the very best service, with their needs at the heart of everything we do."

Melissa Collett, director of professional standards at the CII, said: "It is pleasing to see Cornish Mutual’s commitment to ongoing professionalism as shown by their continuing achievement of Corporate Chartered Status, which is a clear indicator of their declared intent to further build public trust."

Did you enjoy the show?

We would like to thank everyone who has come to see us at one of the region’s agricultural shows. We are attending 32 shows across the year and these events are a wonderful opportunity for us to see many of our Members.

We support our rural communities by sponsoring a number of shows across the South West. In May, for example, we sponsored the cattle ring at Royal Bath and West Show and presented a number of prizes. We were also delighted to be the headline sponsor at the Dorset County Show in September.

Agricultural shows are also a great opportunity to raise money for charities. Thanks to our Members’ generous support at Royal Cornwall Show we raised more than £2,000 for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust’s CHUF Fund, which supports the cardiology unit. We have a very personal reason for supporting this charity, as we recently lost a retired colleague who had been a patient at the cardiology unit.

We also raised £1,800 for Discover Hannahs when we attended the Devon County Show on Thursday 16th May - Saturday 18th May and supported Dorset County Show’s nominated charity, Mosaic, this September.

Thanks to all our Members who helped us raise funds for these charities.

Risk assessments for farms: five myths debunked

Employers know they should do them, but we all know that risk assessments are something many farmers and rural business owners put off. This is often because many assume that carrying out a risk assessment is something they don’t need to do. Others believe it is such a huge task, involving reams of paperwork.

In fact, every employer needs to carry out risk assessments by law. However, the good news is that it does not need to be a particularly difficult or time consuming task.

I think the reason so many people avoid risk assessments is because there are misconceptions out there about what’s involved. So here are the top five myths about risk assessments, which I have come across when speaking to farmers or rural business owners.

1. Farmers don’t need to do risk assessments

Farms remain the most dangerous workplaces in the country and it is a legal requirement that all employers - however small - consider any potential risks.

2. You don’t need to write down your risk assessment

If there’s an accident on your premises, a risk assessment could prove that you did all you reasonably could to foresee the main risks. Facing a claim without a written risk assessment is likely to make your position very difficult to defend.

3. Risk assessments are time consuming

Risk assessments don’t need to be complicated or time consuming if you follow these steps:

  1. Identify potential hazards
  2. Consider who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks
  4. Record your significant findings

4. You need to pay a health and safety expert to carry out a risk assessment

You can employ an external health and safety expert to conduct a risk assessment but it is not usually necessary. You are well placed to assess your workplace.

5. Risk assessments involve reams of paperwork

Many of our Members fear the amount of paperwork that they feel would be involved in a risk assessment. Simply making notes as you work through the four points above will suffice.

Review your risk assessment at least once a year and sooner if there are any significant changes.

Volunteering in our communities

As a mutual organisation, we are passionate about supporting the communities in which we work and live. This year we have introduced a new scheme that enables everyone at Cornish Mutual to spend time volunteering.

All our team members can now apply to take part in a volunteering day to support a charitable organisation of their choice. Some are choosing to spend a day helping out in their local charity shop, while others are supporting charities with beach cleans and practical projects, such as painting fences and trimming hedges. Charities to benefit so far include the National Animal Welfare Trust, St Margaret’s Hospice, Penwith Landscape Partnership and Boscawen Farm, which is run by United Response.

HR and Communications Leader Katie Harland said: "We introduced our volunteering days in response to feedback from our teams, who we know really enjoy supporting charities. We have had a fantastic response, both from our employees and from local charities. Many of our employees are already involved with fundraising and volunteering outside work, but this scheme gives everyone the opportunity to do something positive to help our local communities."

Meet our Members: Wookey Farm

Early in their relationship, Sarah and Ian Davies discovered they shared a dream - to have a goat farm. That dream became a reality in 2010, when the couple bought a piece of land near Wells, in Somerset. Starting out with 12 dairy goats, Wookey Farm now has a 150-strong herd and produces a growing range of goat dairy and meat products, alongside a campsite.

Wookey Farm has a small shop to sell milk, yoghurt, cheese and goat meat to campers and other visitors, and also sells through local farm shops and farmers’ markets.

Sarah explains that the milk is not homogenised. "It is very gently pasteurised in a batch to retain the goodness and it has a lovely layer of cream," she says. "We don’t give our goats any artificial hormones or antibiotics. They feed outside in the summer on grass. We’re trying to make it as natural a process as possible for our animals and our products."

She adds: "I think the thing I love about goats is they’re so friendly - they’re the dogs of the livestock world. You walk into a field and they all come towards you. They’re quite cheeky but in a charming way. They’ve got personalities and you can really get to know them."

Sarah and Ian have continued to seek the advice of Cornish Mutual, to ensure they are covered for the diverse range of activities that Wookey Farm is now involved with. Sarah says: "We want to start having even more visits to the farm. Being accessible to the public and running open days means we need to have the right insurance in place. Cornish Mutual have been very good and really helpful as we’ve grown and diversified."

Cornish Mutual Business Development Leader Philip Wilson says: "At Cornish Mutual we pride ourselves on being there to support our Members as they evolve and their needs change. It has been fantastic to see Wookey Farm grow and develop in a relatively short space of time."

Wookey Farm features in our Real Food Heroes campaign, which celebrates the people behind the South West’s produce.