Kewite-mail March 2021

Dear Kewites and Friends,

Spring has sprung in the northern hemisphere, and for the Kew Guild too. The feeling of renewal and growth feels more eagerly anticipated than ever. Globally, vaccinations and wider covid management will bring release for us. It is a fine time for the Kew Guild to grow too.

The Trustees are grateful for the feedback we received from our December mailing; this will guide our five-year plan. Our plan will also be closely linked to the new RBG Kew Strategy Document, Our Manifesto for Change. This bold mission aspires to shape the next 10 years of Kew’s work through Five Priorities. I urge everyone to read and be inspired by its contents.

The Guild five-year Plan


Our own framework planning document plan will focus on subject areas for growth; growth we have committed to begin and growth we are already making. The Kew Guild will support a suite of educational positions at Kew. If we look at this suite as a ladder, the Discovery Days at Kew, initiated by Honorary Fellow Mike Fitt, are the first step. This step, for large groups, show school leavers what a career in our industry could be. These young people may be our future horticulturists, plant scientists and heirs to the Earth. The next step is the Introduction to Horticulture @ Kew programme, specifically aimed to enrich the educational and working community with individuals from under-represented groups. This aspirational programme should bring through candidates that may continue to progress up the ladder, through Kew Guild funded apprenticeships leading to diplomas and higher degrees. We will fully support one of these positions. This is a bold aim, rooted in the early genesis of the Kew Guild when Sir Joseph Hooker proposed Mutual Improvement to advance knowledge amongst the less enabled at Kew.


Another subject area for growth is our alumnus. As members, we know the Kew Guild is the thread of continuity that binds present staff and students to those who have gone before. Yet it is hard to grow our ranks of past staff and students once they have left; we should grow our ranks of staff and students in the present. We will do this, and extend our alumnus membership wider to include the powerhouse of volunteers from both Kew and Wakehurst, and the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew too. This advance is drawn directly from your feedback, and is now woven into our planning process.

The Kew Guild Presidency

I am pleased to announce that at the Board meeting on Wednesday 3rd March, the Trustees have nominated and agreed unanimously to extend my Kew Guild Presidency for an extra year.

This is to ensure the five-year plan can be constructed and executed with continuation of leadership.

I extend my thanks to the President Elect, Graham Heywood and to the Trustees for supporting these plans and I look forward to working with everyone to continue the momentum.

Our Journal

In growing our organisation, we will have more to say. Our printed journal is a quoin in the architecture of the Kew Guild and, as we all insist, will remain so. Yet we will grow our online representation.


  • An online journal that offers the facility to drill further into an article, with video and fuller imaging.
  • Using our online presence as a more immediate communication portal amongst our members both within and post Kew.
  • Using this portal to apply in real time for our Awards Schemes, renew subscriptions, join social events, subscribe to the annual dinner; post news, deliver experiences and share fellowship.

We have committed to explore this expansion to support our alumnus alongside making clear our role to a public audience and ensuring privacy to our full members.

The EXCEPTIONAL Annual Dinner

We have an expansive ambition for our annual dinner. Having missed two years of this event, there is an appetite for a dinner in 2022 on a scale exceeding that even of the centenary dinner held in the Natural History Museum. We have much to celebrate, and by aiming high we will certainly ensure a memorable, fun event – it’s been a long time coming.

I hope you share the optimism within the opening aphorism of this report, we are just beginning. There is growth, change and development already, which needs support and direction. We are advancing on a broad front to secure the Kew Guild in its proper place. We look forward to sharing details in the next report.

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 very soon.

Your views and comments on the Guild and its activities are always welcome, contact Sara –

Not forgetting News of Kewites – we always want to hear from you, no matter what your story, contact Pamela –

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to pay their subscription by Direct Debit. DD is a much safer way to pay and also helps the Guild with the administration of payments. For those that haven’t changed their standing order yet, we urge you to do so asap. Please contact Sara if you have any questions or need assistance.

Wishing you all a very safe return to normal life as restrictions continue to be lifted and we hope to see you sooner rather than later. 

Floreat Kew. Chris Kidd,
President 2020-22.

A Year at Kew

If you live in London, check out the series
A Year at Kew airing on LONDON LIVE.

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