Lionel Denny and David Hodgetts

TWO of the region's most experienced agricultural bankers, Lionel Denny and David Hodgetts, have joined Clydesdale Bank.Both are returning to the industry at a time when many rural businesses are entering “a crucial period of challenge and opportunity”, says the bank.

TWO of the region's most experienced agricultural bankers, Lionel Denny and David Hodgetts, have joined Clydesdale Bank.

Both are returning to the industry at a time when many rural businesses are entering “a crucial period of challenge and opportunity”, says the bank.

The two, who have almost 50 years' banking experience between them, will be working closely with Andrew Pike, managing partner at Clydesdale in Bury St Edmunds.

“Rarely have we seen such extremes of fortunes within the farming and rural business sector,” said Mr Denny, who joins in a specialist business development role.

While income for grain farmers had seen a boost and better prices were returning for the dairy sector, intensive livestock producers were having to cope with sharply rising input costs, while nearly all livestock enterprises had been affected in one way or another by the impact of foot-and-mouth disease, bluetongue or bird flu.

“In response to these vastly differing circumstances it's absolutely essential that businesses are given strong banking support from a sound knowledge base, both to enable them to cope with challenge when it occurs, and opportunity when it arises,” he said.

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“That's the context, therefore, in which David and I are delighted to be returning to the front line of agricultural banking.”

Mr Hodgetts, who also takes on a business development role at the bank, said although the past year had been far from easy for the rural sector in general, there was still “ample evidence” of business initiative and innovation in East Anglia.

“Lionel and I have worked in this industry for long enough, and with a sufficient number of local businesses, to be able to say, without any doubt, that this region remains an area of great rural business potential,” he said.