Kewite-mail, December 2020

Dear Kewites and Friends,

President Chris Kidd and his Partner, Liz Walker, at the Kew Guild Annual Dinner 2020.

As incoming President of the Kew Guild, may I offer my gratitude for the trust you have put in me. I take office in a period of global pandemic, following the Presidency of David Simpson whose agenda couldn’t have been more curtailed as we entered global lockdown. It is difficult to plan for our organisation at a time when so much is at risk in the wider world, nonetheless the Trustees and I have a duty to you all.

The Kew Guild is a different organisation to that which began over a century ago. We are now mature and financially stable enough to do much more than we do at the moment. The social calendar and Journal is excellent, but there are other things that the Guild should be doing and that is the agenda we would like to start with the coming year. It has been clear to us that we need to draw closer to Kew, our alma mater, and we have begun to talk anew with staff, students and managers about how we can re-engage.

Photo: President Chris Kidd with his Partner, Liz Walker, at the Kew Guild Annual Dinner 2020

How can The Guild help you?

Some years ago, the then President, Allan Hart, asked ‘How could The Kew Guild help the students in their studies and careers?’ From this dialogue came the Kew Guild Awards Scheme, which now makes awards totalling £10k annually.

We have asked the same question again, and are receiving good feedback. But it is also sensible to ask you, fellow member, what could we offer to you as a member, the staff of Kew and the wider body of students at Kew?

What is your perception of the Kew Guild?

What opportunities are to be found from within our resources, membership and fraternity?

How can we support to enhance this bond between us?

These are questions I hope you may answer to me directly. Please email chris.kidd@botanic.co.uk

Awards Scheme News

The Awards Scheme was able, just, to make the first round of its awards in March 2020. As the global pandemic grew, it was clear the majority of awards would not be viable, so we extended the deadline for the awards to be taken up. We have since extended once again. Unlike other awarding bodies, ours remains open to applications. Faced with the global crisis, and mandated by our constitution, it made very good sense to make further awards in the summer of 2020 to assist related organisations, including Kew, whose finances have suffered. It is this charitable outreach that will be increasingly potent to our Kew Guild. We are enabled to work in this way from legacies through our constitution, we simply have to give direction and reap the benefits in the form of works that we can all be proud of. By enabling, perhaps, new studentships at Kew we can grow our membership. We should look to creating inclusivity across the whole of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The future of our Journal

Trustees and officers have been discussing the future and the possibility of an online version of the Journal. There are pros and cons to this and we don’t want to discard any of our longstanding principals and facilities. We would value input from our members and ask if you could please let us know your preference:

  • An annual print version, as it is now
  • A PDF of the print version published online, or
  • A dedicated Journal portion of the web site – for members only and which is updated frequently rather than having to wait a year for news.

Please would you send any comments to Sara, secretary@kewguild.org.uk

The future …

Picture a journal, not long from now, reporting a full calendar of social events, our annual dinner, reports of awards made from our scheme; News from Kewites at home and overseas. Imagine a journal that needs to be bigger, because of so much more that we have been able to do. Reports from ‘our’ students that we have supported in their studies, ‘our’ interns that we supported into placements at Kew, and ‘our’ members that we supported in their introduction to Kew.

Reports on outreach programmes, such as those organised by Mike Fitt at Kew in 2019, but now annual. Reports on our new funding streams making us ever buoyant and able to do even more.

I hope the picture is one you’d like to see, and will help us to make. Of course I don’t propose this all to happen within a single presidential term, such aims are strategic, but the basic direction is there to be steered. As with all things in life, the hardest part is getting started. I look forward to the coming year and hope it brings each of us closer.

COVID stories

Sparkle Ward and Richard Ward are asking you to send in your COVID-19 stories – how it has affected you, your work life, your student life, your business or your retirement. Given impact this has had on all of us we believe that this should be recorded for posterity in the ‘Events of 2020’ Kew Guild Journal.

Please email editor@kewguild.org.uk very soon.

Wishing you all a very safe and happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Diwali and Chinese New Year. [I hope I have included everyone! – Sara]

Floreat Kew.

Chris Kidd,
President 2021-21.