The Highland Wool Team

This page is under construction, and will be updated as we received bios and website links from our team members.

Directors: Janet Charge, Rosemary Champion, Katharine Sharp, Donna Gillies

Rosemary Champion (bio to come): https://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/

Jan Charge is a smallholder, Shetland sheep breeder and enthusiastic exponent of all things British wool. Since moving to East Sutherland in 2013, she has rekindled her love of knitting, learnt to spin and, in partnership with a fellow Shetland sheep enthusiast, established a small business selling mill-spun yarn and hand-knitted accessories.

This is in contrast to her previous life as an Army officer of 18 years and her subsequent work as a learning and development practitioner. She has experience in the design, delivery and management of training for varied clients, and was a leadership and management trainer, facilitator and coach. Her particular area of interest was Equality and Diversity, including writing policy for a variety of public sector bodies. She also sat as a board member for a Probation service and a charity.

Before becoming a farmer at the Hirsel, a small Nature Friendly farm, owned by her husband’s family since 1969, California-born Donna Gillies (nee DuCarme) enjoyed a cross-disciplinary career in the arts, onstage and behind the scenes.  She participated in the creation or rehabilitation of multiple cultural venues: helping to transform an abandoned factory into an artists’ compound; turning a dilapidated glass cutting shop into a theatre space (California); rehabilitating and managing (five years) the Westbeth Theatre Center (NYC); and managing the ABC Treehouse (Amsterdam). But her love of the wild mountains and forests of her childhood never left her, and she felt at home immediately on joining Donald on the farm in 2015, where all the skills learned from a wide-ranging creative career have turned out to be useful on a farm too. The Hirsel’s website is here: https://thehirsel.com/, and Donna’s pre-farming work history can be found here: https://donnaducarme.com/cv-ref/

Katharine Sharp is a farmer and maker on a small upland farm near Loch Ness, focussing on native breed sheep, ducks and geese.  The sheep provide meat, fleece and tallow for skincare.  Her woolly education started relatively recently and has been a steep learning curve, with so much more to experiment with!  She moved to the highlands in 2017, to be nearer her parents, having become interested in ecosystem health, agroforestry and holistic management.  Prior she was working on a small city farm in East London for 7 years, which was incredibly formative for learning, ethos and outlook – but became limiting with the practical restrictions.  In life before farming Katharine trained as a doctor – but it was not the right fit.  Farming offers different but important ways to improve health and wellbeing of both people and our environment. www.achpopulifarm.net Facebook and instagram: @achpopulifarm

Members include:

Ruth Watson is an award-winning journalist with a strong interest in food and drink, social justice, and sustainability. Ruth grew up in Edinburgh before moving to the Northern Isles where she worked as a radio and television journalist. Ruth was a founder member of ‘Orkney Women’s Aid’. She moved to Glasgow to work on topical discussion programmes with the BBC. Ruth lived in Malaysia and Australia for several years before moving back to Kirriemuir where, in 2017, she started ‘Keep Scotland the Brand’, Scotland’s clear provenance campaign, which she runs on voluntary basis. A founding member of ‘Sustainable Kirriemuir’, Ruth went on to create ‘The Kirriemuir Community Garden at St. Mary’s Field’, in 2019. Ruth writes regular food and drink columns for ‘The National’ newspaper and ‘Farming Scotland Magazine’. She is a director of the policy think-tank, ‘The Common Weal’. Ruth is the ‘Food and Drink Ambassador’ for ‘Bioregioning Tayside’. More info: https://bioregioningtayside.scot/

Anna George (bio to come)

Additional advisors, past and present, include (to come):

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