07 Dec
  • By TomAdmin
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Paul Cobbing MBE & CEO Announces Retirement

Paul Cobbing MBE, CEO of the National Flood Forum (NFF), has today announced his retirement plans for early Summer 2022.

Over the last 10 years Paul has led and developed the National Flood Forum to provide flood communities with independent, unbiased, and unwavering support whilst championing their needs with Ministers, senior government officials, risk management authorities and the insurance industry.

Paul has had a massive impact on how flooding is both managed and mitigated, from influencing and guiding flood risk management authorities and government, through to finding practical and creative options for individual communities to assist in thier recovery from flooding.

John Curtin, Executive Director, Environment Agency, “Paul has been tireless in effectively championing the voice of those most affected by flooding

Julie Foley, FCRM Strategy & National Adaptation Director, Environment Agency “As CEO for the NFF Paul has ensured that the voice of NFF and local community groups are heard at the highest levels of government and with MPs and Ministers. He has raised the profile and reputation of the NFF so that it punches way above its weight”

He has achieved this through unerring dedication and sheer hard work, informing and influencing how flooding is managed in England and Wales:

  • Championing the need for communities to have access to affordable flood insurance and working with Flood Re, since its creation, to help them understand peoples’ lived experience of flooding.

  • Conducting research with universities and the Environment Agency to understand how flooding impacts exposed coastal areas and deprived communities.

  • Leading the independent Calderdale Flood Commission following the devastating Boxing Day floods in December 2015.

  • Embedding the NFF as a key partner in several of the new Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme schemes, each worth £6 million over the next six years.

  • Connecting with community groups for example in natural flood management approaches that ‘slow the flow’ of water to reduce flooding downstream.

Paul has been driven by a philosophy of ‘putting flood communities at the heart of flood risk management’, challenging norms and through working together with NFF’s amazing team has grown the membership of the NFF to over 300 community Flood Action Groups across England and Wales.

Richard Pullen, Head of National Biodiversity Policy and Carol Tidmarsh, Senior Policy Advisor at Defra describe Paul as a “critical friend” to Defra “who was not afraid of speaking “truth unto power”, where he thought we were on the wrong track. He was someone who understood innovation came from trying new things and empowering people with unique skills

His achievements have been done through humility, a strong sense of fair play and passion for partnership working.

Innes Thomson, Chief Executive, ADA said “He will be sorely missed by all those who know him, and he will be remembered as a hugely personable, humble man, dedicated to his job, and most of all a bringer-together of others and their ideas

There is no doubt that Paul leaves the NFF with a much higher profile and in a better financial position to make a difference to communities. He has created an excellent platform for the next stage of the NFF’s development and our continuing challenge to ensure that communities are better protected from flooding.

It is an understatement to say that the trustees and staff are eternally grateful for all Paul’s hard work, and we will miss him both as a colleague and as a leader in the flood risk community.

Daniel Johns, NFF chair said “Paul should be incredibly proud of what he has achieved in his ten years as the NFF’s Chief Executive. We now have more than 300 affiliated Flood Action Groups across England and Wales, and he and the team have managed this without any core government funding in recent years. Paul has moulded the NFF into something special, an organisation that tirelessly puts people at the heart of flood risk management, and he could not have invested more of himself in supporting communities across the country

The board of trustees will be launching a recruitment process later this week to appoint Paul’s successor. For an informal discussion about the opportunity, please contact the chair via LinkedIn or email.

End notes

The National Flood Forum was set up in 2002 to support individuals and communities at risk of flooding. The NFF understands first-hand the devastating impact flooding has on all those affected.

We work closely with all the relevant agencies and organisations including the Environment Agency, Lead Local Flood Authorities, Regional Flood and Coastal Committees, Internal Drainage Boards, government departments, ministers, and members of Parliament.

Our values are rooted in respect, empathy and independence:

We care: about putting people first to ensure they are aware of their flood risk, in control of their own lives and able to recover if flooding should occur.

We understand: the impact a flood can have on lives and livelihoods.

We focus on people: First and foremost, flooding affects people, so people need to be at the very heart of new policies – not as grateful recipients of handouts from the authorities, but participating and actively driving change.

Over the last 10 years our retiring CEO, Paul Cobbing MBE, has created a strong platform for the future development of the National Flood Forum. He has established a much firmer financial footing, raised our profile and reputation, and embedded the organisation into key policy development processes and forums.

Prior to joining the National Flood Forum, Paul in senior roles at the Government Office for West Midlands, and at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.