Tim Harris and his wife Geli bought Catfield Hall and its 400 acre estate in 1994 following the death of Douglas McDougall. From the outset their aim has been to manage the estate by putting environmental considerations first – converting all the arable land, which had before been growing potatoes, sugar beet etc into pasture, thereby creating a buffer between Norfolk’s agri-prairies rich in nitrates and √≠nsecticides and the sensitive flora and fauna of the Ant Valley.

Both of the Harrises are 68 years old and have been together for over 50 years having met when both were 17 and Tim was on a gap year in Germany before going up to university. Tim ,the son of a GP, spent his first years in South Norfolk before moving to rural Lincolnshire for the remainder of his childhood. He enjoyed a successful business career serving as Chairman of P&O Cruises, Chief Executive of P&O Nedlloyd and Chairman of James Fisher Plc and Clarksons Plc at various times. He was also Chairman of the lnternational Council of Container Shipping from 1994 to 2000 and President of the UK Chamber of Shipping in 1995. He was awarded the CBE for services to shipping in 1996.

Geli is the conservationist in the family and was encouraged by her father to take an interest in nature; her first experiences of the natural world were in the German forests of the Palatinate and around Heidelberg close to where she lived. She came to the UK in 1969 when she married Tim, got a B.Ed degree and worked as a teacher.