David was educated at Oxford University and after service in the 6th Gurkha Rifles, five years as a fast stream civil servant and five years teaching, he qualified as a rural surveyor and for 12 years was a partner in a regional firm of land agents and auctioneers in the South West advising farmers across Devon and the wider region. In addition to chairing the Board of TIAH he's been Chairman of Dyson Farming since 2014; is currently a Food, Farming and Countryside Commissioner and Trustee; A National Trust Trustee; a Trustee of the Princes Countryside Fund and a rural adviser to the Duchy of Cornwall.
He's been actively involved in his family’s mixed farming, landowning and tourism business in Devon since the 1980s.
Previous roles include Board Chairman and President of the CLA (2003-2007) and a Commissioner on the Affordable Rural Housing Commission in 2005; on the Crown Estate (2008-2017) and on English Heritage (2009-2013). In 2011/12 he chaired the South West Board for the London 2012 Olympics after a period on the SWRDA Board.
He chaired the Government/Industry ‘Future of Farming’ review (2013) looking at opportunities for New Entrants coming into agriculture and the opportunities for skills development in the industry. This was a theme that he returned to when, in 2017, he chaired the South West Rural Productivity Commission.