Jan’s legacy living on with scholarship

The late Jan Early with husband Grant.
- Advertisement -



When Jan Early passed away from cancer in May this year aged 57, the district lost a community stalwart and a woman who was passionate about governance.

In memory, the Advance Ashburton Community Foundation (AACF) is offering a $10,000 scholarship.

The Jan Early Memorial Scholarship is open to women over 25 who live and work (30+ hours) in Mid Canterbury. They must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

AACF executive officer Carolyn Clough said Early had been well known in the community.

‘‘Her impact was huge,’’ Clough said.

She had been involved in many community projects.

Her event management skills were sought after by many local organisations including the Ruapuna Garden Symposium, Mid Canterbury Farm Forestry two-day event, the opening of Lake Hood and Mayfield Red Poppy Association.

‘‘Jan was asuper organised person, who had the ability to get everyone on board with the projects she was part of,’’ Clough said.

‘‘In recent years Jan was a co-opted member of the communications committee of the AACF Advance.’’

She had followed in the footsteps of her father, Jack, who is a former trustee.

While Early had been unable to complete her governance training plan, thanks to her family’s gift of the yearly scholarship, other women in the district would be able to.

Jan Early (nee Allan) was born in Ashburton in 1966 and brought up on a sheep, beef, and arable farm in Ruapuna.

She was educated at Ruapuna School and Rangi Ruru Girls’ School before heading to Massey University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and then a Master of Business Administration.

After beginning her working life in banking with ANZ in Auckland and Wellington, she left New Zealand to travel, going to the USA, UK, and Europe, before heading home via Nepal, India and Thailand.

Returning to Ashburton, Early started her own business, Ashburton Homecare, which she later sold to take up a position with the district council as business development officer.

Early was an integral part of the farming operation she ran with her husband, Grant, which consists of a 400ha dairy unit with a 250ha support farm.

Farming the fourth generation Allan family farm, Early had always been focused on continuing this legacy.

The Allan family legacy extended beyond farming into supporting the community, and Early spent many years serving time on various committees throughout the district.

Her passion for ensuring there was a farming future for her sons, family, and community, alongside her business acumen and skills in management, lead her on a pathway into governance.

Her leadership ‘‘why’’ was to help create a resilient and sustainable primary industry that was respected by fellow New Zealanders.

Early was elected as a director of Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation (BCI) Ltd in 2015.

In 2019 she was awarded the AGMARDT Leadership Scholarship.

Early used this opportunity to advance her governance skills to build the credibility and confidence totake the next steps in her journey.

She completed the Institute of Directors Company Directors’ Course and the Agricultural Women’s Development Trust Escalator Programme.

Early was also accepted into the Institute of Directors Mentoring for Diversity Programme with mentoring from an NZX listed company director.

She was a board observer for The Factory in 2019 and for Landcorp Farming Ltd (Pamu) in 2020.

Early became chair of BCI Ltd in 2021. She was known as an analytical and strategic thinker, able to identify opportunities and threats, and to see alternative pathways to move forward.

With strong financial and risk management skills, Early was also people focused, achievement orientated, and had a high level of integrity.

Early’s relationship building strengths enhanced collaboration, facilitated growth and performance, and enabled resolution.

Early had aspirations to continue her governance work with other companies and her ultimate goal was to become a Director of an NZX listed company.This dream was unable to be realised when she lost her battle with cancer.

Early is survived by her husband, Grant, and her twin sons, Ben and James, who both work in Agri Banking.

In providing the Jan Early Memorial Scholarship through AACF, Early’s family hope to encourage more women to realise their own leadership aspirations by being able to undertake training in governance.

  • Applications for the Jan Early Memorial Scholarship close on September 15. Forms are available at advanceashburton.org.nz