Simon Berry
Currently on full-time secondment to Defra working as Head of the Third Sector Team charged with the implementation of Defra's Third Sector Strategy. I'm also supporting the team delivering the Greener Living Fund. I founded ruralnet|uk and I am the former Chief Executive.

ruralnet|uk & RNUK Ltd
As a rural development specialist with wide and varied experience, I have designed and implemented both practical and research projects, in Britain and developing countries. Although my academic background is in agriculture and tropical animal health (Reading, 1977 and Edinburgh, 1978), I quickly moved into working with communities through training and extension work, institutional development, and integrated rural development projects, under the UK Government’s Overseas Aid Programme, spending 12 years in South America and Africa.

In 1991 I returned to the UK as project manager to establish WREN Telecottage – one of the first public access ICT centres in the UK – and managed the centre for 2 years.I moved to WREN's parent, the National Rural Enterprise Centre as Project Manager (Telematics) in 1993, and worked on a range of initiatives, from RegioNet (Project Manager), a pan-EU community telematics project covering nine countries with 34 partners, to planning for individual community ICT centres. In 1995 I took over as the NREC’s Director.In 2002 I lead our team to independence from the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE). ruralnet|uk (http://www.ruralnetuk.org), an independent rural regeneration charity, was launched on 1 August 2002. ruralnet|uk continues to have links with the RASE and occupies the same premises (the National Rural Enterprise Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire).

As well as financial and strategic management, my work areas include: rural policy, project management, research and consultancy, online information (www.inforurale.org.uk), communications and collaboration (www.ruralnet.org.uk and www.networksonline.org.uk).

Key activities over the last 12 months have been:

  • The ColaLife Campaign – it's big and it's beautiful! (personal)
  • Open Innovation Exchange: www.innovationexchange.net
  • development of the Rural Community Carbon Network initiative – now seeking supporters and funders – rccn.communitycarbon.org.uk. Broadening this network and providing high value services – communitycarbon.net
  • design and delivery of the ruralnet|uk conferences – www.ruralnetuk.org/conference
  • strategic management of the net:gain – a programme helping VCO leaders take control of technology – www.net-gain.org.uk
  • collaboration with other service providers in the delivery of integrated online services for the VCS
  • the migration of ruralnet|uk's online services to new, open and more accessible technical platform including:

xPRESS Digest news service: www.xpressdigest.org.uk
our shared rural bookmarks service: www.inforurale.org.uk
and Experts Online: www.expertsonline.org.uk

On 25/4/05 I was 'Highly Commended' (2nd!) in the IAB Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

I am a Common Purpose 20:20 graduate.

In November 2004 I accepted an invitation to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA). I am a member of the British Society of Animal Science and the British Computer Society.

I work with my wife, we have three children (22-26) and live in a self-built house, which is (still) nearly finished.


I lead the ColaLife Campaign: colalife.org which is trying to get Coca-Cola to use its distribution muscle in developing countries to save children's lives.
Please help by joining the ColaLife Facebook Group AND inviting your friends – we need to keep the pressure on!
Keep up with developments on the ColaLife Blog.

My favourite website is svt.se/hogafflahage/hogafflaHage_site/Kor/hestekor.swf
My favourite YouTube video:

On-going craze: Tandem and Moulton bike riding!



Commuting to London about twice a week is made bearable enjoyable using a Birdy folding bike:

Planned rides:
None a present

Selected past rides:
27/7/07 to 7/9/07
Land's End to John o' Groats on the National Cycle Network
The blog of the ride is
The mapping is here:

Rugby to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest (~70miles) to get to the ruralnet|2006 conference:
29/5/06 to 7/6/06

Land's End to John o' Groats – in aid of the ruralnet|uk participation fund – 980 miles in 10 days
You can still read all about it, comment and donate at www.ruralnet.typepad.com/endtoend/
August 2004 and 2005
Tandem/campervan tour of southern Ireland.
August 2003
Tandem/camping tour of south Dorset, Jersey, Guernsey and Sark.
11 May 2003 (one-day ride)
Cardiff City Hall to St James' Park, London. 171 miles.
6-16 February 2003
Charity Ride, Mérida to Ticúl, Yucatan, Mexico. 310 miles (50 miles off-road) – £3,000 raised
18 January 2003
Rugby to Tuxford. 73 miles in 4h 15m (training for the above).
27-28 July 2002 Coast to coast (Whitehaven to Tynemouth). ~150miles.
4-8 April 2002 Chippenham to Land's End was planned . . . only managed Lands End to Barnstaple! ~185miles.

National Rural Enterprise Centre
t 0845 1300 411
skype sxberry
f 0845 1300 433

w www.ruralnetuk.org

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2 Responses to About

  1. Blair Thomson says:

    Thanks for your reply, Simon. Although you are not the person I was seeking, you are someone with whom I could well be in touch. As you will see from my Facebook entry, I am heavily involved in Third Sector activities as Chair of the Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum and serve on several related organisations including the Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership, the Cornwall Economic Forum and the Cornwall Climate Change Action Committee. I’m also Chair of the Cornwall Strategic Partnership, which includes trying to drive forward environmental and regeneration initiatives, and serve on local, regional and national EU Convergence ESF and ERDF committees. If you think I can be of any assistance please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  2. Ann Longley says:

    Hi Simon
    We met at the LIFD screening of Us NOw – I was on the panel and you told me about Cola Life afterwards. I wanted you to know I’m writing a thought piece about corporate reputation in the digital age and I’m using Cola Life as an integreted case study. I’ll send you the report when done. Think the work that you have done is brilliant. Congratulations on your success. May it long continue!
    With best wishes,

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