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Legacy of Warwickshire’s first Woman High Sheriff helps University of Warwick tackle global food security

Elizabeth CreakA trust set up by , a leading Warwickshire farmer who was the first woman to be High Sheriff of Warwickshire, has announced that it has agreed to fund a Chair in Food Security at the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences. The announcement has just been made by The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust. Professor Laura Green, Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, said:

“The support of the Trust to enable us to create the Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security will make a significant difference to a research and impact programme focused on the crucial issue of ‘Food’. 'Food' is one of the University of Warwick's Global Research Priorities, where we are focusing our research efforts on issues of food security, food production and supply, environmental and social sustainability, governance, social justice, nutrition and public health.”

In addition to the Chair in Food Security the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust have also kindly agreed to fund a special Scholarship Fund at the University of Warwick which will provide funding to support students wishing to undertake placements in commercial laboratories, other academic research facilities, or with growers and producers, or to support their study for an MSc or PhD.

Clyde Higgs Paul May, a trustee for the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and Elizabeth Creak’s Nephew said:

“Elizabeth would have been proud to support the important work in food security at The University of Warwick by funding the new Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security. Her own farm was just five minutes’ drive away from the University’s crop centre Wellesbourne and she was a close friend of Jack and Doris Butterworth, the University’s first Vice-Chancellor and his wife. Clyde Higgs, Elizabeth’s uncle, was well known for introducing innovation into dairy farming and it is appropriate that innovative research into food security at Warwick will benefit the farming community both here in the UK and internationally.”

This significant support by The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust is a very timely complement to UK government’s own renewed focus on investment in agri-tech research through its industrial strategy. The Trust’s funding announcement follows closely after the news last week of such government support that for a partnership of leading Midlands universities, led by the University of Warwick. The Warwick led partnership has been awarded £13 million by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to train 260 PhD research students over the next 5 years in a number of areas including food security.

A core part of the University of Warwick’s food security research is delivered through the Warwick Crop Centre which is part of University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences and is located on the University’s Wellesbourne campus. WCC has expertise including; crop breeding, plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, crop nutrition and environmental research. Warwick Crop Centre also works closely with industry delivering knowledge and technology to farmers and growers with emphasis on cost-effective production of high quality crops with minimal environmental impact.

Note about The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust

Elizabeth Creak was born in Slough in 1926. She attended McGill University in Canada before working for Allen Lane at Penguin Books in both the UK and latterly America, where she helped to establish their new venture. She returned to the UK to eventually work with her uncle, Clyde Higgs, who by then had built up a thriving two thousand acre dairy farm in Warwickshire. Prior to this, Clyde had also developed a four thousand acre farm in the foothills of Mount Kilamanjaro and held a number of other positions including: Managing Director of English Farms in Wiltshire; Agricultural correspondent of the BBC and Council Member of the Royal Agricultural Society. Clyde was a highly innovative and enterprising farmer who was well known for challenging the status quo and cross-fertilizing best practices among farmers in the UK and around the world. His practical approach and constant quest for efficiency, gained at the family’s electric motor business, helped him to significantly increase output across his farms. He clearly recognized a similar passion and ability in Elizabeth and mentored her to become his successor.

In 1963 Elizabeth inherited Clyde’s farm in Warwickshire and ran it with great success for a number of years. She was a highly capable and well respected farmer and brought many creative ideas to the world of farming. She eventually sold the bulk of the business, but maintained a substantial acreage around Stratford. Elizabeth’s business acumen, determination and integrity were the reasons she was invited on to the boards of many local charitable organizations including the Royal Agricultural Society, the Stoneleigh Abbey Trust and the Stratford Society. She was the first female chairman of the Warwickshire branch of the NFU and in 1998 she became the first woman to hold the office of High Sheriff of Warwickshire. She was also a keen supporter of local craftsmen, artists and the theatre.

Elizabeth passed away in October 2013 and left the bulk of her estate to the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust. Elizabeth created the Trust to provide ‘Clyde Higgs Scholarships’ in agriculture; support and encourage new blood in farming and finance projects to help farmers survive and ultimately thrive in their challenging modern environment.


For further information please contact: Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy, University of Warwick,, 024 7652 3708, 07767 655860

PR301 PJD 14th October 2014




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