Change probably doesn’t quite cover the dynamics of the past 18 months.

The world has stopped, the way in which we work, communicate and socialise has had an overhaul, and more recently, it feels like we’re all just trying to adapt and figure out life after the bombshell of the past year or so.

While on a much smaller scale than a global pandemic, we at CPM have experienced a lot of change too of late – first with the sale of the business to new owners Kelsey Media, followed by the news that our much-loved editor, Tom Allen-Stevens, would be moving on to pastures new.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t found it a challenge to fill this column space over the past year. Lack of on-farm interaction – and of course, the threat of a deadly virus – left me feeling a bit flat, and with an inability to find something meaningful to say month after month.

But as I sit down to write this sort-of tribute to Tom, the words seem to flow so easily again – and how could they not when you’re talking about a person who has given so much to journalism?!

Tom took on the role of editor 10 years ago, a time when I was just starting my A-Levels and had no idea that a career in agri-journalism was to follow.

When I took my first job out of university as an editorial assistant, one of my inaugural commissions was from Tom, and I’ve got to be honest, I was a bit daunted.

I’d only seen CPM in my lectures and being the non-farmer I was, found the jargon and dialect pretty overwhelming. How would I ever produce an article good enough to feature in this magazine?

The article was an Insiders View piece on RGT Gravity, but as the girl who left uni thinking she was going to work in dairy cow breeding and genetics, varieties felt like a foreign language.

(Coincidentally, in that same issue, Tom’s column bore the headline: “How can Defra be so clueless?” which gave me a good idea of what it was going to be like working under him).

But from the start, Tom was a fantastic mentor and ensured he took the time out of the world’s busiest schedule to give feedback and offer advice on interviewing and getting the best out of even the most difficult characters – and I credit him and my former boss, Olivia, solely to my ability to be able to (kind-of) string a sentence together today.

While I’m going to miss being able to count on Tom asking the tongue-in-cheek questions at press briefings, I don’t think I’m going to be sad to see the end of the 3am emails – I have NEVER met someone who works such bizarre hours!

I’m sure many of you are wondering what this means for the future of the magazine and no doubt plenty will agree that Tom has been very much the face of the magazine, and it’ll be hard to replicate that.

So, while there’s much talk of stepping into his shoes, in my opinion, that can’t be done.

Instead, perhaps it’s time for a new pair of shoes (in a style that Tom would like, of course) as CPM – and agri-communications in general – move with the times and change tactics to provide first-class coverage of this new era in farming.

I hope we can take you with us on this journey of change, and we always want to hear from you, dear readers, about the topics that get you going, or if there’s an issue we should be looking into – so please, keep in touch with us.

And finally, to Tom, all that is left to say is thank you. I can only hope for a career as long, as colourful, and as impactful as yours has been so far.

Originally hailing from Devon, Charlotte Cunningham is now based in Warwickshire and when not busy filling the pages of CPM, can be found in the garden, or exploring the countryside with two crazy spaniels in tow. @charcunningham