I joined FAST Ltd in 2005 becoming a Partner in FAST LLP in 2013. My background is more business than farming, but I found my experience of assisting business start ups gave me a greater understanding of what it really means to run your own business. I certainly feel that I have agriculture ‘in my bones’ now and I’m as passionate about the success of our growers as any of our advisors.
After leaving school in the dim and distant past with a clutch of useless O-levels, I completed a light engineering course at Southampton Technical College and then travelled and worked extensively in Europe to gain some life skills, a marvellous tan and very little money.
I’ve had an interesting and varied career path since then, ranging between haulage, logistics, international sales, the Eurotunnel project, motorhomes, caravans, agriculture and people management, which has given me a wealth of varied and useful experience.
After over 13 years as a Senior Operations Manager for S&A Produce at Hernhill Nursery and a pleasant year travelling in Europe under my own steam, I found my spiritual home and new challenges with FAST – a move I have never regretted.
Sue left Maidstone College back in the late 70’s with secretarial qualifications, her first job was at Guy’s Hospital Medical School which was extremely interesting, but she says she was a bit squeamish. Moving around Kent for many years before settling in Faversham in 1987 where she met and married her husband of 31 years.
Sue joined FAST in January 1989 as Eric Gunn’s secretary. On seeing the orchards outside the old North Street office, she had expected to see orchards of big old apple trees not the multi row beds that were so popular back then. In 1992 Eric retired and Sue left to start a family. Returning to FAST in 1994 (part-time) to new Directors but still the same drive and innovations of how to help improve the fruit growing industry which continues today.
Sue’s role in FAST has changed over the years, helping with invoicing, setting up new systems, IT and communication, programming and finally getting the title Office Manager. This role is a bit of everything all rolled into one – and she is still enjoying it.
I lived on a mixed fruit, hops, arable, and grassland farm in Kent for the first 20 or so years of my life but was more interested in becoming a scientist than in farm work. I became a Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the UK’s Learned and Professional Society for the Chemical Sciences and was subsequently awarded the status of Chartered Chemist (CChem) through the RSC and of Chartered Scientist (CSci) through the Science Council.
My career started in the food industry where I worked in research, as an Analytical Chemist in a confectionary factory, and in new product development before I moved to a large multi-national Agri-business stability testing new agrochemical formulations.
I joined FAST as their Laboratory Manager in 1999. My current role is to carry out soil and mineral nutrient analysis of plant material such as leaves and fruit, and give fertiliser advice to growers based on the results of these tests. As such, since joining FAST I have become accredited as a FACTS Qualified Advisor.
After graduating from the University of Bucharest with a bachelor’s degree in Food Quality Control and Safety Technologies, I decided that it would be beneficial to develop new skills within the UK’s flourishing Horticultural sector.
My career has spanned over 15 years in various positions while working for two of the biggest soft and top fruit producers in Kent and I strived to excel, working my way up the ladder, subsequently becoming an Operations Manager.
After more than 8 years in a fast-paced environment as an Operations Manager, I decided that it was time to take on a new challenge with FAST. I’m extremely lucky to be a part of a very experienced team, and whilst learning, if I don’t master certain knowledge myself, one of us will. Our teamwork is outstanding!
I grew up in Beckenham and moved to Faversham with my parents in 2001. I studied Sciences and Animal care at Canterbury College and have over 12 years of Administration experience.
I have been working at FAST LLP since April 2019 and I still enjoy it!
My hobbies are looking after my bearded dragon and Indian Star tortoise, reading, Tudor history, photography and visiting museums.
After leaving school Andy started working for Wakeley Bros in the early 1980’s as a forklift driver, QC and then running the packhouse. He then went on to work for UniFruit Co as a QC. UniFruit was taken over by CapeSpan and whilst working for them, Andy frequently travelled to Europe and South Africa.
Andy joined FAST in 2014 for 3 days a week, taking on many roles like soil sampling, recording bud stages, fruit sizing to name but a few. At the same time, he set up his own Antiques and Collectibles shop “Mr Meadowlarks” at Standard Quay in Faversham.
After leaving school with ‘O’ levels in science and art related subjects, Karen got her first job working in a R & D Laboratory at a Kent Paper Mill where she spent 20+ years before its closure in 2007.
Karen joined FAST in 2007 working in the in-house laboratory as a seasonal worker assisting the Laboratory Manager with soil, coir, water, leaf and fruit analysis. More recently Karen has been working full-time helping with store monitoring as well.
In addition to this Karen also works as a Personal Care Assistant, is willing to learn new things and thrives under pressure.