Board of Directors

The Directors of Scottish Rural Action are elected by the membership each year to govern the organisation.

Amanda Burgauer, Chair

Amanda lives in the southernmost part of South Lanarkshire, in the Lowther Hills. She’s a member of the Lanarkshire LEADER Local Action Group and is Treasurer/Director at Wiston Lodge, a charity that supports children and young people. Amanda is passionate about rural affairs and the need for vibrant, sustainable rural communities, and is active in local broadband initiatives as well as local democracy and land reform. Amanda was involved in the first workshop in Edinburgh that sought ideas from others in the European Rural Movement and has attended both Scottish Rural Parliaments since, becoming Chair of Scottish Rural Action in February 2016.

Contact: or @amshru

Vanessa Halhead

vanessa_halhead– Vanessa has worked in rural community development in Scotland for over 25 years and managed many rural projects and organisations. She was a founder and manager of Highlands and Islands Forum, the first community based rural movement in Scotland, and worked for Rural Forum Scotland. She managed the EU funded (£750k) Duthchas initiative on sustainability of peripheral communities, the Moray Firth Partnership and the Rural Transfer Network – sharing policy and practice in rural development across the Nordic region and Scotland. She was rural development policy officer in SNH. For 7 years a community councillor and Highland rep. on the ASCC, she continues to be active locally as a director of 2 community development organisations and Chair of Highland Environmental Network. Her research on the rural movements of Europe lead in 2004 to the formation of the European Rural Community Alliance, of which she is a director, also to initiatives to promote a rural movement in Scotland and the first European Rural Parliament. Since 2011 she has worked with the Scottish Government and rural stakeholders to advise and develop the Scottish Rural Parliament.

Rebecca Dawes

– Rebecca is the Communications & Rural Affairs Manager for the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs Rebecca Dawes(SAYFC). Scotland’s largest rural youth movement represents over 3500 members between 14 and 30 years of age and is member-led. Through her role she works to engage with stakeholder groups so young people have the opportunity to have their voice heard. This is through a range of streams such as committees, media/publicity coverage (on and offline) and knowledge transfer events. Additionally she is Scotland’s Open Farm Sunday Coordinator which is about raising awareness of food and farming through connecting the consumers with those producing our food; and sits on the judging panel for Lantras Landbased and Aquaculture Awards. She has a first honours degree in Events Management  and prior to her role with SAYFC has worked on food and drink festivals, flower and gardening festivals and international conferences and meetings. She moved to Kinross-Shire in 2013 with her family where they run a livestock (beef cattle and sheep) farm . Prior to this she was living in England where she jointly ran the on-farm family retail business that incorporated a farm shop, butchery, deli, tearooms and educational centre. The calendar included regular events to raise money and awareness for local community and charity groups, something which she has continued in Scotland.

Alison Macleod

– Alison Macleod was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, moved to Applecross, Wester Ross after graduating froAlison Websitem Edinburgh University in 1983 and has lived there since. As well as bringing up a family of four sons, she has worked on a creel fishing boat, as a home-help, nursery auxiliary, barmaid and as an administrator on a submarine noise ranging base (she is not proud of that one but employment choices are very limited in remote rural areas). In 2006 she started working in community development, at first on Raasay, and in 2008 as a volunteer founder director of Applecross Community Company. Since 2011 she has been the local development officer for the Community Company, which owns and manages the local filling station, has installed a community broadband scheme and developed a recently completed hydro scheme, funded by selling shares through a Community Benefit Society.

Gordon Harrison

Gordon was born in Perth and now lives in the very rural south-western Scottish Borders.  Recently retired, for many years he has been heavily involved in the Ettrick and Yarrow OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcommunities as the Chair of the Community Council and Director of their Development Company.  He knows that 21st century communications are essential to ensure sustainable rural communities and has previously applied for and managed a LEADER rural broadband improvement project in Ettrick.  He is now a Project Board member for a large community broadband project in South Scotland and a very active member of the Borders LEADER LAG for the 2014-2020 period.  Gordon is fully committed to supporting rural life, rural communities and the rural economy.

Anne Simpson

Anne lives in Mintlaw in the heart of rural Buchan in Aberdeenshire. She was brought up in Bannockburn, Stirlingshire and graduated from the University of Stirling in 1972. Her early career was at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen where she undertook research for her Ph.D. then a post-doctoral fellowship. She became interested in youth and community work in her twenties firstly as a volunteer and later as a paid part-time youth worker. This resulted in a change in career direction. She qualified as a Youth & Community worker in 1982 after a course at Northern College in Aberdeen. Since then she has worked in Community Learning, Community Development, and Education in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. From 1998 until 2002 she was an Education Officer in the Buchan Area. In July 2002, she became Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Learning Manager. She took early retirement from this post in June 2011. In 2012 she got a wee bit bored with retirement and took a part-time Development Worker post with The Garioch Partnership, supporting community groups in and around Inverurie. She did this for four years until July 2016. Anne is currently vice-chair of Mintlaw & District Community Council, treasurer of the Buchan Development Partnership, chairperson of the Book of Deer Project.  She is a Board member of the North-East Scotland College and of Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action, and a member of YouthLink Scotland, the national youth work agency. She is also a member of Mintlaw 50+Walkers, Mintlaw Rural, and the Mintlaw gala committee. Anne remains as passionate about lifelong learning, empowered communities, youth work and young people now as she did in her twenties. She likes being busy!

Mary Williams Edgar

Mary lives in the Braes of Glenlivet in the Cairngorms National Park. She is a director of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust and a board member for the Landscape Partnership tasked with delivering 3.6 million GBP worth of rural regeneration projects across the area.  Her career has diversely veered from media work as a television programme director to sheep farming and running a guest house, with periodic but enthusiastic pauses to restore rural buildings. She has also founded an internet based company to provide well-paid, innovative work for rural women with caring responsibilities, now continuing this interest with a current project (Women on Large Forestry Machines) in partnership with the Scottish Forestry Contractors Association set to address a recognised skills shortage by providing training, skills development and career progression for women in the rural workplace.  Mary is a longstanding lay member of the Employment Tribunal panel in Scotland.

Lee Haxton

Lee is originally from Angus and studied at both Dundee and Aberdeen University’s before getting into work. Starting out for a new Development Trust in Midlothian, Lee moved intocairngorm the public sector, working for Angus Council for 7 years and has worked for the Cairngorms National Park Authority since 2013. Lee has an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development and has been able to use the knowledge gained throughout his working career, supplemented with experience of a variety of rural community development issues. Through Lee’s work, CNPA have been a strong supporter of Scottish Rural Action and the Rural Parliament, having been involved in all of the events so far. Lee splits his time between Carr-Bridge in Strathspey and Carnoustie in Angus.