Staff and Associates


Steve Westbrook

Steve Westbrook obtained a BA in Economics from Cambridge University in 1971, and has more than 35 years experience as an economist specialising in regional economic development.  After a period as an economist with West Midlands County Council, Steve moved to Scotland in 1978 as an economist with the Highlands and Islands Development Board, followed by three years as a senior consultant with Mackay Consultants. Steve has been involved in more than 800 studies since setting up his own business in 1992, mostly as director of multi-disciplinary teams.

Steve specialises in feasibility studies and business plans, economic impact assessments, policy analysis, labour market analysis, and strategic planning.  He has helped a range of clients to secure funding totalling more than £140 million from the Lottery and European sources through business plans, impact analysis and assistance with applications.  The methodology used by Steve in assessing economic impact is consistent with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Treasury guidelines, and he has been at the forefront of the development of impact methodology, including the measurement of displacement, externalities and longer term impacts.  With EIU associates, Steve has framework contracts with HIE and SE to carry out impact analysis and evaluations of policies and programmes.

Over the past two years, Steve has been contracted by Highland Council to draw up and facilitate the implementation of an Action Plan for the multi-agency Highland Economic Forum, including more than forty new initiatives, which range from sectoral development plans to encouraging business collaborations and fostering new community enterprises.


Rachel Forrest

Rachel graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in economics and marketing from the University of Strathclyde in 2007.  Following a successful placement in the research and economics team at Highlands and Islands Enterprise and time spend travelling abroad, she began to work for Steve Westbrook in 2008. 

Under Steve’s mentorship, she has gained a full understanding of economic development work, from the desk research and internet searches needed when investigating a subject, to data collation and full economic impact analysis requiring detailed economic modelling.  She enjoys technological challenges and is a user of GIS mapping software.  Her areas of specialty are renewable energy, aquaculture, construction, aviation, tourism and labour market analysis.

Rachel began to work for the Economics Intelligence Unit in January 2017 and has been involved in a number of projects, such as SPARA 2020, Highland Economic Forum support work, a carbon inventory study of the Inverness area, and a study looking at the heritage tourism in the Inner Moray Firth area. 




Tom Matthew

Since 2004, Tom Matthew has been Director of Reference Economic Consultants – a consultancy firm providing economic and research services, mainly to the UK public sector.  Prior to this, Tom was Senior Development Manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and Co-founder and Director of EKOS Economic Consultants.  His qualifications include an MA (Hons) in Social Sciences from the University of Glasgow.

Tom has been undertaking economic research in the Highlands & Islands since the early 1990s. He has designed, managed and undertaken a very large number of studies for HIE as well as for each of the region’s local authorities, including providing economic impact assessments and research to HIE on a call off basis since 2006. Tom has also carried out research in the region for national bodies such as Scottish Government, VisitScotland and Bord na Gaidhlig. Tom has designed, managed and delivered evaluation studies across a range of sectors, both in the Highlands & Islands and elsewhere in the UK.


Andrew Blackadder

Andrew Blackadder is Managing Director of A B Associates Ltd – an independent consultancy based in Shetland that was established in 1994.  The company undertake work throughout the EU, providing a range of services to the public and private sectors in economic and business development and analysis, project management, and European affairs.  Previous work experience includes Planning and Economic Development for Cambridgeshire County Council, Principal Industrial Strategist for Shetlands Islands Council, and Divisional Manager Economic Policy, Research and EU Affairs.  His qualifications include an MA (Hons) in Geography, and post grad diploma in Town and Regional Planning.  He is a member of the RTPI, IED, and Market Research Society.

Andrew has over 30 years experience of managing and undertaking projects in rural economic and business development, primarily in Scotland, but also in many rural areas in Europe.  he has specialised in socio economic research, labour market analysis, statistical and sector analysis, impact assessments and Cost Benefit Analysis, policy analysis and strategy development (e.g. rural development strategies and Leader programmes), surveys, Input Output analysis, European Affairs (policy and funding programmes), funding packages, business plans and projections, and feasibility studies.  Clients include EU (e.g. evaluator for DGTREN and technical advisor to DGFISH), national (advisor to new EU member states), regional, and local public agencies, as well as the private sector and social enterprises and community groups.  He has expertise in particular industry sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, tourism, and energy.


Duncan Bryden

Duncan Bryden is the Principal of Bryden Associates, established in 2002 – a rural development consultancy focusing on strategic planning, evaluation and management, policy development, and lottery applications for environmental, tourism, leisure and voluntary sectors – with particular specialisms in sustainable tourism, interpretation, protected areas, visitor management and community consultation.

Duncan is a rural development specialist with a wide range of experience in the public, private and third sectors. He has a particular interest in strategic policy and planning in rural and mountain areas of the world.  He believes in a sustainable economic approach which integrates community needs and aspirations with a high quality environment.

Duncan is the leader of the Sustainable Tourism module in the UHI Masters course Interpretation Management and Practice at the Centre for Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Perth College UHI. Duncan is also the Chairman of the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Vice Chairman of National Parks UK.

Duncan’s previous employment includes Director of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Senior Executive at the Scottish Tourism and Environment Forum. His qualifications include a BSc (Hons) in Ecology from the University of Edinburgh, an MSocSc in Heritage Management from the University of Birmingham, and the Sustainability Development Leadership Programme from the University of Cambridge.


Jean Hamilton

Jean Hamilton is Director of Jean Hamilton Limited – established in 1997.  She undertakes a range of work in the private and public sectors, with particular expertise in economic development.  Previous employment includes various positions at the Scottish Development Agency and Scottish Enterprise, and as an Economic Consultant at Coopers and Lybrand Associates. Her qualifications include a BSc (Hons) in Economics from the University of St Andrews, and an MSc in Local Economic Development from the University of Glasgow.

Jean has over 25 years experience in economic and business development.  Particular expertise is in the completion of economic appraisals and evaluations; feasibility and design activities including the assessment of markets; business plans, often of complex projects; fund raising from the public sector (including European, Scottish Government, SE/HIE, Local Authority, Lottery and Charitable Trusts) and the private sector.  Specific experience includes life sciences, skills, business development, tourism, charities/social enterprises, property and physical development and public/private enterprises.  She has contributed significantly to the development of policy within Scotland in skills, technology and innovation, and health research as an economic activity.

Clients include Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government, Universities, the NHS, charities and the third sector, and the private sector.  She is also Director of a number of private and third sector organisations.