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Somerset Superwoman

PUBLISHED: 11:16 01 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:07 20 February 2013

Somerset Superwoman

Somerset Superwoman

A farmer from the Quantock Hills swaps her boiler suit for a business suit for her role as an agricultural lawyer. Words by Sarah Ford

A farmer from the Quantock Hills swaps her boiler suit for a business suit for her role as an agricultural lawyer. Words by Sarah Ford



Imogen Mann wears many hats she is a lawyer, farmer, hawk flyer and a keen sportswoman. She has also gained her private pilots licence, breeds alpacas, has worked as a journalist and plays cricket for her local team, The Bridgwater Doctors.
I went to interview this Somerset superwoman at her office at Pardoes Solicitors, where Imogen heads up the agricultural division, to discover how she has managed to accomplish all this and all before the age of 40!
Imogen moved to Somerset when she was six years old and lives on her familys mixed farm in Kingston St Mary near Taunton. They farm sheep and grow crops on about 200 acres of land in this picturesque part of the Quantocks. For four days a week Imogen puts on her lawyers hat for her role at Pardoes and on the other three days she dons her boiler suit, revs up her tractor and is out on the farm tending her land and animals.
My family are pilots, landowners and lawyers it seems to be a theme through the generations but I am actually the only one who is all three, explains Imogen.
She had always wanted to fly helicopters professionally, but was found to have borderline eyesight for the required Class 1 medical certificate. This didnt stop her from gaining her private pilots licence and she is licensed to fly single-engined light aircraft. She was determined to be part of the airline industry and, after graduating with a BSc 2:1 joint honours in Geography and Sport Studies, went on to postgraduate study for her MSc in Air Transport Management from the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield University.
After working as a journalist for a leading flight management publication, Imogen joined Air Foyle as a business development analyst for the passenger side of the business. Much of her dealings at Air Foyle were with lawyers and this prompted her to think about law as her next career step. My original plan was to do aviation law, but at that time the airline industry was in its periodic downturn and the opportunity to specialise in this area did not present itself.
Having grown up in the countryside, agricultural law seemed appealing and Imogen says there are similarities between working in the two industries. The importance to parties is the same whether they are purchasing a plane or a piece of land. But it helps being an active farmer when I am dealing with farming clients.

My family are pilots, landowners and lawyers it seems to be a theme through the generations but I am actually the only one who is all three, explains Imogen



Imogen qualified as a solicitor four years ago and has been working at Pardoes for nearly three years. She is determined to be recognised as a renowned agricultural specialist lawyer, not only in Somerset but throughout the country.
Back on the farm, the family employ a much trusted local man whom they have known for many years for duties around the farm and for animal husbandry, primarily shepherding. Management, administration and development duties are shared between Imogen and her father. The livestock comprises 400 pedigree and commercial sheep, as well as 20 Suri alpacas which Imogen describes as incredibly entertaining but also rather arrogant animals.
They are also somewhat time-consuming and when things go wrong they can go badly wrong because they are very stoic. Sheep will keel over if it looks like a bad day, but alpacas will conceal an injury or ailment until sometimes its too late. Last year we had a premature one and we saved him and he is now 10 months old. The vets at the Deane Veterinary Centre in Taunton are excellent and have learned about alpacas with the rest of us.
We viewed alpacas as a commercial enterprise on the farm and we now have 20 of them. The fibre is beautiful and is used principally for mens suiting material and can be used as fake fur. We decided on white because it can be dyed. Alpacas go well with the sheep and seem to keep the foxes away. We have three youngsters at the moment and had a champion at the Royal Bath and West Show and reserve champion at the Devon County Show.
But how does Imogen get her flying fix now? In between farming and agricultural law, she is a keen Austringer, or hawk flyer, in her spare time. She hopes to own her own hawk in the future. Flying is in my blood and I dont care if it has feathers or metal wings if it flies then Im interested!
Imogen has time for other hobbies too and when I meet her she has recently returned from a skiing holiday. I have been skiing since I was three and I also ride horses. Im a member of Taunton Athletics Club and Enmore Park Golf Club. I also do dressage training and I like to walk anywhere, but the Quantocks are my patch.
As a youngster, Imogen played cricket for the England under-19s and is now a keen all-rounder for her local all-male team. She says: I play for the Bridgwater Doctors Cricket Club but I think most of us are not doctors!



For further information about Pardoes Solicitors go to www.pardoes.co.uk, 01278 457891

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