Rural Community Summit Hosted by BBC Journalist Nicholas Owen

Mole Valley's rural businesses and communities are invited to the district's first Rural Summit on Tuesday 26 February, hosted by BBC journalist Nicholas Owen.

This free, ticketed event, which will take place at Hartsfield Manor in Betchworth from 10am to 2pm, will be a chance for businesses and rural Mole Valley's community organisations to debate current challenges and opportunities.

A range of topics will be explored: Digital Connectivity, the Visitor Economy, Community Assets, Community Safety, Rural-Based Business and Rural Housing.

The panel of local experts agreed so far will be:

  • Professor Caroline Scarles, Professor of Tourism at the University of Surrey
  • Marc Jones, owner of the Red Lion in Betchworth and Director of the MR Group, which advises pubs on how to succeed
  • Lucy Quinnell, owner of Fire and Iron at Rowhurst Forge in Leatherhead, founder of the Teazle Wood Trust and winner of the Leatherhead and District Women in Business Award 2015
  • Angus Denny from Broadband for Surrey Hills (B4SH)

There will be a variety of stands where delegates can speak directly to key stakeholders in rural areas about topics that interest them, and network with local specialists.

Councillor Corinna Osborne-Patterson, Cabinet Member for People and Rural Mole Valley, said: "This event is an important part of our Rural Community Strategy, aimed at supporting thriving, inclusive and sustainable rural areas. I'm excited to see what issues we can explore together, as the feedback we receive from the summit will inform our ideas going forward."

There will also be refreshments and a buffet lunch.

Four delegates are welcome per organisation.

If you would like to attend the event or book a free stand, please contact

Received a printed invitation? Please register on Eventbrite using the event password››

Nicholas Owen

Nicholas Owen, broadcaster for BBC TV News and Classic FM radio, began his journalistic career on the Surrey Mirror in 1964, before moving to Fleet Street in 1968 where he worked for various newspapers, including the Evening Standard, the Daily Telegraph and Financial Times. In 1981, he switched to television reporting, joining the BBC in the North of England, covering general and industrial stories for both regional and national news and current affairs programmes. He moved to ITN in 1984 as Channel 4 News' Business and Economics Correspondent.

He later became the Royal Correspondent for ITV News and played a major role in reporting on the death and funeral of Princess Diana. He eventually wrote a book on her life.

In 2007 Nicholas returned to BBC News as a presenter and has been a regular face on the BBC's 24-hour news channel. The year before that, he took part in BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing. He has a passion for classical music and hosts a popular Saturday show on Classic FM. He is married, with four children, a dozen grandchildren, and lives in Surrey with his wife, Brenda.

Professor Caroline Scarles MA, MSc, PhD

Caroline is Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey. Her key research interests lie in the areas of critical tourism, with particular focus on the role of the visual and technology in tourism. Bringing together her work on the visual, mobile technology and digital solutions in the visitor experience, Caroline's recent research has focused on enriching the visitor experience through augmented reality and image recognition technology in arts and heritage. Caroline also conducts research in the area of sustainability through work on the socio-cultural impacts of tourism on communities and pro-environmental behaviour change.

Caroline is lead editor of the journal Tourist Studies, and resource editor for Annals of Tourism Research. She holds several national and international appointments, including: executive committee member for BEST EN and the Association for Tourism in Higher Education, international advisor for the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group for the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, founding member of the International Network for Visual Studies in Organisations (inVISIO), and non-executive Director for Visit Surrey.

Marc Jones

Marc is a founder and former Managing Director of a select group of pubs and restaurants which operated throughout the South East of England. He has also created solution-based companies which have influenced multiple clients in many aspects of the hospitality industry. He enjoyed a corporate life before 2002 in which he managed leased operators for a major pub company and, to go back further, he owned and operated pubs with his wife. He now heads up the MR Group acting as a consultant to others, and owns the Red Lion pub in Betchworth.

Lucy Quinnell

Lucy Quinnell owns Fire and Iron at Rowhurst Forge in Leatherhead. She founded the Teazle Wood Trust, which runs a community woodland nature reserve, and is Chairman of the Leatherhead and District Countryside Protection Society. She also appeared in the RSPCA's 2018 national campaign against litter and fly-tipping. An RHS Gold Medalist, Lucy recently won the Leatherhead and District Women in Business Award, and in 2016 Fire and Iron won Surrey Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Garden Award in the Business Category. Lucy is a professional writer and magazine editor for the British Artist Blacksmiths Association.

Fire and Iron specialises in contemporary blacksmithing. Lucy has designed and produced numerous public artworks across the UK, including the Amesbury Archer sculpture in Wiltshire, the Royal Army Chaplains' Department memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and the Dragonfly at Thursley National Nature Reserve. Fire and Iron's best known local sculpture is the Dorking Cockerel, and Lucy is currently working on a new artwork for West Street in Dorking.

Lucy's house, Rowhurst, is one of the oldest buildings in Surrey, and is open to the public every year for Heritage Open Days. The M25 is in the garden!

Lucy originally studied at Epsom School of Art and Design and then at Exeter University (English literature).

Angus Denny

Angus began his career as an engineer in the offshore oil industry and has since worked in the IT industry for many years. He spent over 25 years with IBM, where he worked with clients across industry sectors including defence, banking, oil and the public sector. Latterly Angus has run his own consultancy, advising clients on commercial aspects of IT. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Manchester. Angus is Operations Director at Broadband for Surrey Hills (B4SH). 

Find out more about B4SH.

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