FEP Elects a New Chair

In September 2020, Andrew Callard stood down as the Chair of the Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) after two and half years in post. Since then the board of directors have been making enquiries and seeking nominations for a suitable candidate to fill this role. 

A nomination process was held leading to the appointment of local businessman Neill Ricketts as FEP Chair. The nomination process received full support with no objections from FEP Stakeholders, and on 7 December 2020, the board formally welcomed Neill as the new Chair of the Forest Economic Partnership. 

 Neill R 2

Living in the heart of the Forest of Dean, Neill Ricketts is co-founder and Chief Executive of Versarien PLC. Neill is an entrepreneur who has over 25 years’ experience in the engineering industry covering a host of sectors including Oil & Gas, Aerospace and Motorsport.  Under Neill’s leadership, Versarien – which is headquartered in Cheltenham - was incorporated in 2010 and in June 2013 the company listed on the AIM submarket of the London Stock Exchange. 

Versarien currently has 6 subsidiaries with factories and / or staff all over the UK, but also Spain, USA, South Korea, and China.  Versarien’s mission is to create new materials suitable for commercial use and is focussing work with partner Universities (Cambridge, Manchester, Ulster, Warwick Manufacturing Group, and others) who are conducting 2D material research, primarily with graphene, allowing it to find appropriate commercial applications.  Versarien secured significant recognition for the region by winning over 20+ national and international awards. 

Neill is an active member of the Gloucestershire business community and he sits on the Board of the GFirst LEP, during this time the board has secured over £120m worth of funding for the county.  Additionally, Neill and the company support and sponsor SGS Berkeley Green UTC and he is an enthusiastic supporter of the University of Gloucestershire’s Growth Hub and its development of engineering and technology.

Neill will chair his first FEP stakeholder meeting on 17 December 2020, 9:30am via Zoom and looks forward to virtually meeting the FEP members.