Scottish Land and Estates have announced the appointment of three new directors to its board.

Angus Cheape, Alastair Orr Ewing, and Michael Upton have been appointed following the rural business organisation’s AGM which was held on Monday evening (April 29).

Patrick Colquhoun’s appointment as SLaE’s vice chair (policy) – which was previously announced in January – was also formally ratified by members.

The directors join Scottish Land and Estates following a newly introduced recruitment process which sought to identify those with particular knowledge, skills and experience, both inside and outside of SLaE’s existing membership, that could complement and add to the board’s existing diversity and expertise.

SLaE board member Lucy Laidlaw, who chaired the nomination committee, said: “The appointment of Angus, Alastair and Michael marks the culmination of a rigorous appointment procedure which we believe will benefit Scottish Land & Estates for years to come.

“Significant challenges and opportunities face Scotland’s rural businesses and as an organisation, we saw a chance to revisit how we engaged potential new board members so that SLE is as well equipped as possible to represent our members.

“We wanted to ensure we had the widest possible pool of talent available to us and Angus, Alastair and Michael will provide valuable input to the board. Importantly, we have also identified potential candidates for future appointments and this will hopefully help in addressing any skills gaps we may find in future as well as supporting succession planning.”

Chairman of Scottish Land and Estates, Dee Ward, welcomed the new appointments to SLaE’s board and also paid tribute to Mark Tennant, former chair of SLaE, who concludes his term as a director.

Mr Ward said: “Angus, Alastair and Michael are excellent appointments for Scottish Land and Estates and I am delighted to welcome them to our board.

“They bring with them a wealth of experience and new ideas that will positively contribute to how we represent Scotland’s rural businesses. We are currently in a period of substantial change on matters such as land reform, agricultural support, addressing the twin climate and nature emergencies as well as issues on housing, tourism and rural depopulation.

“It is important that we regularly bring new voices on board and I’m also delighted that Patrick’s appointment has been ratified by members. He has already made a substantial contribution to the organisation since joining us at the start of the year.

“On behalf of our members and my fellow directors, I’d also like to thank Mark Tennant for his outstanding contribution to SLE as he finishes his term as a director. Mark played a hugely important role as chairman, particularly during the pandemic, ably representing the views of rural businesses and communities to government.”

Angus Cheape

The Scottish Farmer: Angus Cheape

Following service in the Scots Guards, Angus qualified as a chartered surveyor and in 1980 opened an office in Edinburgh for Langley-Taylor, an old established firm in general practice with offices in Gray’s Inn, London. The Scotland office is now based at his home in Kinross-shire.

Alongside professional life he farms in partnership with his son, Henry, in Fife and Kinross-shire where the family have been resident landowners for generations. More recently he has taken a great interest in organic and regenerative farming and bears some responsibility, in the background in his capacity as a Trustee for the Strathtyrum Trust, for the establishment of Balgove Larder, an acclaimed farm shop, butchery and cafe near St Andrews.

Angus was born and brought up to a great extent in the Isle of Mull where both sides of his family have owned property since the mid-19th century. He is a past senior steward of the Argyllshire Gathering and maintains a wide connection generally on the West Coast. More recently he has been chairman of the Mull Deer Management Group.

Alastair Orr Ewing

The Scottish Farmer: Alastair Orr

Alastair served for 10 years as an officer in the Scots Guards and held a number of leadership roles, deploying internationally including on operations to Afghanistan and Iraq. After the Army he started a career working in private equity and venture capital and has had roles in both investing in and running early stage companies (in turnarounds and growth roles). He is currently the CEO of Gitlife Biotech, an early stage company commercialising technology out of Newcastle University.

In his own time, Alastair runs Cardross, his family’s estate located on the foothills of the Trossachs and bordering the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Alastair’s family have worked to diversify Cardross which is made up of agriculture, sporting, tourism and events, and Cardross is also broadening its conservational and environmental efforts with NatureScot. Alastair is passionate about sustainable and enterprising land management and enjoys mentoring businesses and their leaders to achieve their goals. He is very proud to be joining SLE and looks forward to being able to bring lessons from his career to the benefit of rural enterprise.

Michael Upton

The Scottish Farmer: Michael Upton

Michael Upton has practised as an advocate at the Scots Bar for 32 years, specialising in property, agricultural, planning and telecoms law. He has advised and represented a wide variety of Scots landowners, agricultural tenants and fishing interests in the Court of Session, the Sheriff Court, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and the Scottish Land Court.

He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, an Accredited Mediator with the London Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution; in addition to his work as a litigation lawyer, as a panel member with the Faculty of Advocates’ Dispute Resolution Service, he practises as an agricultural Arbitrator and Mediator.

Michael also serves as an external examiner to the Law Society of Scotland. For 20 years he has led the Bar’s outreach MiniTrials programme for school children. In his spare time he is a member of the volunteer staff of St Columba’s Hospice and the congregation of the German-Speaking Church of Edinburgh.

Michael holds degrees in Philosophy from Oxford University, Scots Law from Edinburgh University and European Law from the European University at Florence. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two children, but hails from rural Glencorse in Midlothian and has long-standing connections with the Hebrides.