The President’s Jewel

Each year a person of standing in the county is invited to be Honorary President of The Devonshire Association.

A president’s year of office commences at the Annual General Meeting (held as part of the Annual DA Conference). The outgoing President chairs the AGM and invests the incoming President with the silver-and-enamel ‘President’s Jewel’, given to the Association in 1935 by Lady Radford. The new President then gives a talk on a Devon subject of his or her choosing, which is normally published as a keynote address in the forthcoming Transactions.

The President also conceives and organises the President’s one-day symposium assisted by the Executive Committee.


Current President Photo of David Fursdon, Lord Lieutenant of Devon 2017–2018

David Fursdon came to Devon with Catriona in 1979 after an early career in the civil service, a short commission in the Gurkhas and a degree from St John’s College, Oxford, to improve the fortunes of his 750 year-old family estate at Cadbury, in Mid-Devon. After a spell teaching geography, debating and cricket at Blundell’s School, he went to the Royal Agricultural University and qualified as a rural surveyor. He worked in Devon as an equity partner of Stags and then became President of the CLA in 2005.

Since then he has been a board member of the Crown Estates, English Heritage, the SW Regional Development Agency, The National Trust, the Historic Houses Association, the Duchy of Cornwall Rural Committee and the Affordable Rural Housing Commission. He chaired the SW Board for London 2012, and the Government’s Future of Farming Review, and is currently Chairman of Beeswax Dyson Farming Ltd, and the SW Rural and Farming Network.

He was High Sheriff of Devon and is now Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of the County.

Photo of Dame Suzi LeatherComing President 2018–2019

Dame Suzi Leather chairs the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, the ombudsman for higher education students; serves on the board of the General Medical Council; and is a trustee of Stepchange, the debt advice charity. Locally, she chaired the Plymouth Fairness Commission, is a Vice-President of Hospiscare and served on the Council and Ethics Committee of Exeter University.

Dame Suzi has a wide professional background having been Chair of the Charity Commission, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the School Food Trust, the School Meals Review Panel, the Council of Food Policy Advisers and Lankellychase Foundation. She was the founder Deputy Chair of the UK Food Standards Agency. In the health field she chaired a local NHS trust and the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Dame Suzi lives in Exeter and is married with three adult children and a grandson. She went to Tavistock School and has lived in Devon on and off since her sixth birthday. She is married to Professor Iain Hampsher-Monk, the historian of political thought. She is an active, if slow, triathlete and also enjoys long distance walking having done four camino routes to Santiago de Compostela and last year completed the GR20 in Corsica.

Suzi was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 and is a Deputy Lieutenant of Devon.

Photo: Antony T. Buller

Former Presidents

Some details of our most recent presidents are here.

Presidents back to 2000

Including the locations of the AGMs at which they were inaugurated.

2017 Buckfast David Fursdon, MA FRICS FRAgS, HM Lord Lieutenant of Devon
2016 Cullompton Dr Todd Gray, BA, PhD, FRHistS, MBE
2015 Tavistock Dr Tom Greeves, MA, Ph.D.
2014 Barnstaple Dr Chris Cornford BA (Hons), MSc, PhD FGS
2013 Kingsbridge Mr Andrew Cooper, BSc
2012 Torquay The Revd. Peter Beacham, OBE
2011 Axminster Canon Professor Nicholas Orme, MA, DPhil, DLitt, FSA, FRHistS
2010 Holsworthy Mr Roger F. S. Thorne, JP, CEng, MICE, FSA
2009 Dulverton Rachel Thomas, CBE, DL, BA, DrSc.h.c., FRGS
2008 Bovey Tracey Anthony Beard, Esq.
2007 Ilfracombe Justin Leigh, Esq.
2006 Salcombe Anthony Gibson, Esq., OBE, MA, Hon. MSc, ARagS
2005 Seaton Prof. Malcolm Hart, BSc, PhD, DSc, ARCS, DIC, FGS, CGeol, CSci
2004 South Molton Prof. Ivan Roots, MA, FSA, FRHistS
2003 Chagford Sir Eric Dancer, KCVO, CBE, KStJ, JP, HM Lord Lieutenant of Devon
2002 Plymouth Barrie Williams, Esq.
2001 Totnes His Grace the Duke of Somerset
2000 Exeter The Rt Revd Richard Hawkins (Bishop of Crediton)

For details of our presidents before 2000, see here.