Former ice-cream boss from Yorkshire takes chairman job at Moorland Association

The Moorland Association has appointed a new chairman – he owns an ice-cream business instead of a grouse moor.

James Lambert OBE was elected unanimously by the Board of Directors at the organisations Annual General Meeting last week. He succeeds Mark Cunliffe-Lister, who has served as chair since May 2020.

Mr Lambert began his working life as a cattle breeder in North Yorkshire. He invested in a local ice-cream business with six employees and transformed it into R & R Ice Cream, a hugely successful enterprise with revenue in excess of £1bn. The firm later merged with Nestlé European Ice Cream.

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He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.

James Lambert OBE, Chair of the Moorland AssociationJames Lambert OBE, Chair of the Moorland Association
James Lambert OBE, Chair of the Moorland Association

During his tenure he aims to build on work that has already been done to undertake conservation and help maintain jobs on the uplands.

Mr Lambert said: “I am delighted to join the Moorland Association, whose members make a tremendous contribution to the protection and conservation of heather moorland – one of the country’s most precious landscapes.

“Moor owners, in common with many other landowners, are wholly committed to striking the right balance between sustainable food production, wildlife, habitat restoration and improvement, community engagement, rural jobs and responsible access for all.

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"The outstanding conservation work undertaken by many of our members is an ideal example of how all these benefits can be achieved, while supporting jobs in the uplands and protecting peatland for carbon capture. We will continue to seek wider recognition of this from decision-makers. I feel very privileged to succeed Mark who is widely admired for his important work on behalf of the association and its members.”

Mark Cunliffe-Lister, who was elected chair in 2020, runs the Swinton Estate in Masham and turned the family seat into a luxury hotel and venue.

He welcomed Mr Lambert’s business skills which he says will help take the Moorland Association forward.

Mr Cunliffe-Lister said: “We are very pleased that James Lambert has agreed to join us, bringing to the Moorland Association the benefit of his extensive business and leadership acumen.

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"This year we have been fortunate enough to also appoint Andrew Gilruth as chief executive, whose extensive knowledge and previous experience will help the organisation and our commitment to demonstrating all the benefits of grouse moor management for nature, the environment and rural communities.”

Moorland Association members manage 860,000 acres of heather moorland across the North York Moors, the Northern Pennines, the Forest of Bowland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. More than 60 per cent of England’s upland Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are moors managed for grouse shooting.

The group spends £52.5m a year on landscapes which are rarer than rainforests. The UK has around 75 per cent of Europe’s upland heather moorland and are lived near and visited by millions of walkers and wildlife enthusiasts.

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