Lorna Young

15th June 1952 – 5th July 1996

Leading figure in the FairTrade movement in Britain

Born in Dumfries, Lorna Young was the first sales director of Cafedirect, the leading "fair trade" coffee brand which guarantees a better deal for coffee growers. Dedicated to improving links between producers in the less developed world and Western consumers, she had played a vital role in its development since it was set up in 1991.

Cafedirect gathered its early momentum among alternative trade outlets such as wholefood and Oxfam shops and Traidcraft stalls. From this base, Young took it into the supermarkets, and thence into homes throughout Britain. She showed the major supermarket chains that fair trade could work for them as well as for consumers and, most importantly, small-scale producers. This was a massive challenge and no one but Lorna Young, with her unique combination of humour and strength of commitment, could have done it.

A Scotswoman and an independent spirit, she only discovered her talent for selling when she entered the publishing world in 1975, working for the next 15 years first at the medical publishers Churchill- Livingstone and later at Chambers.

When in 1990 she became a founder member of Equal Exchange, the Edinburgh- based fair trade co-operative, she found a task to which she could apply her commitment and which was a challenge for her ability. Her expertise enabled Equal Exchange to take products as diverse and unusual as pecan nut butter, Tanzanian organic honey and Nicaraguan tahani to an intrigued national market.

Wholefoods are big business today, but few recognise the diversity of participants, from subsidiaries of multinationals to large co-operative wholesalers and retailers dedicated to a lifestyle rather than a business. Young brought a clarity and directness to Equal Exchange's dealing with them all.

Equal Exchange joined forces with Oxfam, Traidcraft and Twin Trading to launch Cafedirect coffee in 1991, and Young embraced the challenge of taking this new, high- quality product into the mainstream market - something no other fair trade product had been able to achieve. She blended a professional approach to sales and marketing with a commitment to the coffee producers' cause to persuade the multiples to put Cafedirect on their shelves.

In addition to her sales activities she was heavily involved in developing Cafedirect's distinctive advertising and in working with a national network of committed fair trade supporters. Cafedirect is now an established national brand and the flagship of the fair trade movement. Its success, and the growing consumer interest in ethical trading, has in turn opened the supermarket door for other fair trade products including tea and chocolate.

Few would have guessed she was fighting a long personal battle against a series of heart problems, having sadly passed away in 1996 at the age of 44.


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