Kew Guild

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.

The Kew Guild Medal

David F. CutlerDavid F. Cutler

It is hard to believe it is 15 years since I first suggested to the Kew Guild Committee that we should consider having a medal struck to recognise people of outstanding merit in topics close to the interests of the Guild. The Committee set up a small working group to develop the idea. On the basis of their report it was agreed to go ahead because the initiative was seen to ‘raise the profile of the Guild, to recognise personal achievements and spend the money of the Guild in a wise and constructive manner.’

The initial criteria devised by the working group have been revised since they were first set out, and the most recent revision, in 2018, states them as follows:

“The Medal is awarded for outstanding merit in the furtherance of one or more fields of interest of members of the Kew Guild. For example: Scientific or amenity horticulture, Plant systematic research, Plant or habitat conservation and Horticultural Education. Other relevant fields of interest can be considered. The recipient need not be a member of the Guild.”

It was agreed that the Medal should be presented at the Annual Dinner or the Annual General Meeting unless the recipient or their representative is unable to attend, when other arrangements can be made. It was also agreed that normally the Medal should be awarded every two or three years, and exceptionally on consecutive years. However, as you can read below, there was no shortage of suitable candidates and after 2014 a medal has been awarded in each of the following years. Kewite Anthony Ross was invited to design the medal, and although somewhat taken aback by the request, consulted a medal die and engraving specialist company in Twickenham about practical matters and put his considerable skills to producing the exquisite medal. A first batch of ten was struck. The medal is silver gilt, weighs 50g, is 50mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick. The 2006 Journal cover showed the Medal, together with a short article by Anthony Ross on page 78 of same.

Initially the nominations for the medal were made by a Medal Awards Sub-Committee. This consisted of the President of the Guild with John Simmons, John Edmundson, Prof. Gren Lucas, Dr. Thomas S. Elias, David Hardman and David Cutler (Secretary). This functioned very effectively, but in due course the members of the Kew Guild Committee decided that they should take full responsibility for receiving and deciding on the nominations and the Sub-Committee members were thanked for their work and the Sub-Committee was disbanded. I continued to be responsible for seeing the process through the Guild Committee until I retired from this role in 2019.

Nominations are most welcome from all members of the Guild and should be sent to the Kew Guild President. It is very important that when making nominations you shouldn’t tell the nominees! Medalists up to the time of writing are as follows:

2007 Roy Lancaster, 2009 Raymond Desmond, 2010 Alan Barber, 2012 Noel McGough, 2014 Sir David Attenborough, 2015 Christopher Brickell, 2016 Alan Titchmarsh, 2017 Christopher Beardshaw, 2018 Martin Duncan, 2019 Laurie Olin.

I would like to add my thanks to Richard Ward for his help in gathering data for the article.

Peter Styles – We have recently received ten new medals. We used a mint through our Welshpool printers so thereby keeping things in house so to speak and making it easier for ordering.

Spec is: Design and Development – 50mm Obverse @ £940.00, 50mm Reverse @ £780.00, 10 off H M Silver, 2.5mm thick Collar Medal, gilt finish, in a standard presentation case 50mm @ £196.00 each. These were provided by Toye Kenning and Spencer Ltd, London. They are by Royal Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen and the medals were cast in their factory in the  Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.


2008 – Roy Lancaster

Guild President Rebecca Bower presented the first ever Kew Guild Medal to renowned plantsman Roy Lancaster at the Kew Guild buffet dinner at the Coach & Horses Hotel, Kew Green on 19th May. See 2008 Journal p 298.

2009 – Ray Desmond

Awarded ‘in absentia’ at the annual dinner on 23rd May. ‘Ray has been driven to work tirelessly for the benefit of Kew and the Guild. During his tenure on the staff he helped place the Kew Library on a more secure foundation. He also established the Kew archives as we know them today. All his many publications are reference works of great value, and have been central to increasing interest of how Kew has developed over its 250 year history. His latest, the second edition of the history of Kew, is an especially valuable contribution of increasing public understanding of the mission of Kew.’ Together with Nigel Hepper Ray co-authored a celebration of the Kew Guild in their book ‘A Century of Kew Plantsmen’ published in 1993.’ See 2009 Journal pp 398/9.

Photograph © RBG Kew, originally published in ‘Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens’, by Ray Desmond.

2010 – Alan Barber

Awarded at the annual dinner on 22nd May. ‘Simon said he was always proud of his achievements while he studied at Kew Gardens in the 1960s and achieving the Kew Certificate and was always mindful of his distinctive service as Secretary of the Mutual Improvement Society. Alan has devoted his working life to the improvement of Parks and Open Spaces and campaigning for their improvement and development. Alan’s career spans over 50 years and served in many positions and is well known as a commissioner for architecture and the built environment. He is the author of numerous publications and articles and is much sought after for advice on management of urban parks and green spaces and has been consulted on management of green spaces of cities in the United Kingdom and overseas and is a worthy recipient of The Kew Guild Medal.’ See 2010 Journal p 500.

2012 – Noel McGough

Noel joined Kew in 1988. Apart from the line management of the Conventions and Policy Section and of the UK Overseas Territories and Conservation Training teams, Noel’s role at Kew involves advising the UK government on the application of international biodiversity related conventions to plants. This role also includes conservation governance and negotiation, packaging scientific advice for government policy makers, inter-governmental decision-makers and for international negotiations. Noel is often found leading for the United Kingdom and European Union Presidency in international negotiations.

His day to day job involves managing Kew’s role as UK Scientific Authority for Plants under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and supporting the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity at Kew and in partner countries, the investigation of trade in wild plants and the assessment of possible detrimental trade and the effective application of the CITES Non-Detriment Finding process.

Noel is often working with partner countries to identify methods to correct detrimental trade, in particular through the CITES Significant Trade process and the CITES Plants Committee. This can include developing tools and building capacity to help countries fulfil their obligations under international conventions and building global partnerships through the mechanisms of international biodiversity related conventions.

Noel is a member of the CITES Plants Committee, Chair of CITES Plants Committee Significant Trade Working Group, and Co-Chair of the CITES Advisory Panel for the Evaluation of the Review of Significant Trade. In addition, he is a member of the European Union CITES Scientific Review Group, a member of the CITES Standing Committee Working Group on the use of Taxonomic Serial Numbers, a member of the Defra Advisory Panel for the Methodology for Assessment of Priorities for International Species Conservation and a member of the UK CITES Officers Group. A further significant role is as a UK Government delegate for CITES meetings of the Conference of the Parties, CITES technical committees, European Union meetings and in negotiations.

Projects Noel is involved with include CITES checklists, listed timbers, trade research, Climate Change Science Policy, Plant Diversity Challenge: The Official UK Response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and Significant Trade in CITES Plants.

Noel has not only been instrumental in building capacity and expertise in the Conventions and Policy section but is recognised by Defra and other international bodies as a key player in the arenas of CITES and latterly of the CBD. He has made a significant contribution to help Kew maintain and enhance its collections legally, to train numerous staff and relevant external people in most aspects of CITES implementation and has been an effective ambassador for Kew.

Biography originally contributed by D. Hepper. Also see 2012 Journal p 168.

2014 – Sir David Attenborough

‘The President then introduced Sir David Attenborough to whom he then presented the Kew Guild Medal. In accepting the Medal, Sir David expressed how much Kew meant to him and how his attachment to Kew, cemented as a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens for 10 years, began at a much earlier time when he was married in St Anne’s church on Kew Green where the Hookers are buried. His wife’s family are from the area and as a resident he became a frequent visitor to the Gardens in the days when they charged just 1d.’

As published in 2014 Journal pp 420/21.

2015 – Chris Brickell

At the 2015 Annual Dinner the Kew Guild recognised Christopher Brickell for his outstanding contribution to international horticulture and botanical science, awarding him the Kew Guild Medal. Through his initiatives and involvement in garden management, plant conservation, taxonomy and publications he has provided knowledge, interest and encouragement to a large audience, both professional and amateur to fully appreciate all types of plants and their care.

See further details in 2015 Journal pp 581/582.

2016 – Alan Titchmarsh

35 Kewites assembled on 15th June for a lunch at the Coach and Horses Hotel, Kew Green. The event was arranged by the Kew Guild to mark its award of a Kew Guild Medal to Alan Titchmarsh for distinguished work as a horticulturalist. In welcoming Alison and Alan, Guild President Tony Overland mentioned Alan’s career and particularly his work as President of Plant Heritage, Perennial, and a Trustee of Gardens for Schools, and President or patron of approximately 35 charities and organisations.

Alan, in turn, thanked the Guild for the honour and expressed his pleasure in returning to Kew and meeting up with old friends. He recalled his digs on the Mortlake Road in Kew, and five happy years beside Kew Green; how he had met his wife through Barnes Operatic Society, how he valued the Kew Diploma and the fact that he is in touch with plants every day – he will always be a gardener.

See 2016 Journal p 79.

2017 – Chris Beardshaw

President Jean Griffin presented the Award at the annual dinner on 25th May. Multi Chelsea Gold Medal winner and TV personality Chris provided an entertaining review of his work and gardening experiences.

‘As a landscape designer Chris has been responsible for many attractive planting schemes including the RNLI commemorative feature at the National War Memorial at Alrewas (Staffs) along with many imaginative award winning plantings that have supported important charities at RHS Chelsea. Along with many contributions to radio and television he perhaps is best known as ‘the Helicopter Gardener’ as he ‘dropped in’ to view many top ranking UK garden landscapes. All of the UK’s major horticultural events have benefitted from his expertise, often adding an appealing and captivating touch of humour along the way. Chris uses his natural skills to encourage any age group seeking to pursue an interest in growing plants whether it be for colourful amenity planting, productive cropping or the natural landscape.’

See 2017 Journal pp 142 & 202.

2018 – Martin Duncan

Jean Griffin presented the medal to Martin at the annual dinner on 23rd May.

‘Martin Duncan, Head Gardener at Arundel Castle owned by the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, who attended the dinner in support of Martin. From horticultural training in Ireland, National Parks work, farming, coffee plantation and advisory work in Africa to Jordan working for King Hussein, titled people in Bermuda and landscape designing in the UK; Martin now manages the ornamental and organic vegetable garden at Arundel. He is a firm believer in developing and making history, not keeping to strict historical layout or features as his work at the castle testifies.’

See 2018 Journal pp 285 and 322.

2019 – Laurie Olin

Awarded ‘in absentia’ at the annual Dinner.

‘Laurie is a distinguished American teacher, author, and one of the most renowned landscape architects practicing today. Born in Wisconsin and raised in Alaska, Laurie studied civil engineering at the University of Alaska and pursued architecture at the University of Washington, where Richard Haag encouraged him to focus on landscape. He practiced in Seattle and New York before travelling to England on a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972-1973 and to Rome as a Fellow in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome in 1974-1976.’‘He is currently Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught for 40 years, and is former chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University.’

See 2019 Journal pp 401 and 454. 

  • Winner of the 2008 Kew Guild Medal, Roy Lancaster
  • Winner of the 2008 Kew Guild Medal, Ray Desmond
  • Winner of the 2010 Kew Guild Medal, Alan Barber
  • Winner of the 2012 Kew Guild Medal, Noel McGough
  • Winner of the 2014 Kew Guild Medal, Sir David Attenborough
  • Winner of the 2015 Kew Guild Medal, Chris Brickell
  • Winner of the 2016 Kew Guild Medal, Alan Titchmarsh
  • Winner of the 2017 Kew Guild Medal, Chris Beardshaw
  • Winner of the 2018 Kew Guild Medal, Martin Duncan

Precied for the Kew Guild website by Sparkle and Richard Ward in December 2020.

Coronavirus update

In view of the exceptional circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve decided, very reluctantly, to postpone our spring/summer events programme. Unfortunately this includes the annual dinner and, most likely, the Ireland trip. I’m really sorry that we’ve had to take this action but the safety and welfare of our members is paramount and this cannot be assured for the foreseeable future.

All being well, we aim to re-arrange these events to take place either later in the year or in 2021; we’ll email you regularly with updates. For those booked onto the Ireland trip we’ll be in touch with you separately.

Once again, apologies. Please stay safe and well.

All the very best, Dave Simpson, President.

Our Honoured Trustee

Congratulations to our Trustee Graham Heywood and his wife Eira, who have both been awarded British Empire Medals in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for their services to Autism.

Graham and Eira founded Bolton Adult Autism Support (BAAS) in 2013 to provide support for autistic adults after their son, Julian (now 50) was diagnosed in later life.

Coming as a complete surprise to both Graham and Eira, Graham said “We wouldn’t be here without the support of many organsiations and people… We are also celebrating as we have been given National Lottery funding for our befriending service.”

Well done Graham and Eira, we are proud of you.

Kewite-mail May 2021

Dear Kewites and Friends,

The Kew Guild has supported education from its inception, having grown from the Kew Mutual Improvement Society, members of which shared knowledge of horticulture and plant science in a regular formal way under the guidance of Hooker.

The following century-plus has seen the Kew Guild grow from these beginnings and is soon to embark on the support of a new initiative, the ‘Introduction to Horticulture @ Kew’ programme.

The aim of the programme will be to encourage greater ethnic diversity in horticulture by targeting ethnic minority groups. This will be a twelve-month programme running from August 2021-2022 in the first instance. The content will be familiar to many of us with hands-on practical work at Kew. Participants will rotate through the two main garden departments, Glasshouses, Nursery & Display Horticulture, and Arboretum, Gardens & Horticulture Services.

The Kew Guild has agreed to fully support one of these positions. Further funds have been secured for another two positions, so a cohort of at least three will be ready to begin this autumn. The financial support from the Kew Guild has been essential to enable this programme to commence, we will meet the participants as they begin and will follow their experience with regular reports.

Frustratingly, it is evident that ethnic minority groups are not attracted to horticulture as a career option, there are many reasons behind this, the following article provides some background information on the topic:

A new beginning for the Kew Guild

This autumn will see Trustees work towards extending our alumnus to include all present staff, students and volunteers in a new category of membership. It is appropriate here to outline more fully the proposal to widen our alumnus role.

The alumnus, which we hope to become live in September 2021, will be offered to the full workforce within RBG Kew and Wakehurst place, include volunteers and the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Membership of this alumnus endures for free for the period of engagement with Kew. We hope that on leaving the organisation (if not before) the alumnus member would wish to join the Kew Guild as a fully paid member – inspired by the actions they have seen the Kew Guild take during their time at Kew. When this goes live, each person outlined will receive a copy of our Journal. They will not receive another until they join fully. New arrivals in the capacities listed above will receive a copy of our most recent Journal.

This “front loading” alumnus will give good opportunities to the Kew Guild to create dialogue which may best be via electronic means. I hope that closer linkage to RBG Kew will enable us to work in partnership with RBG Kew IT to facilitate this; Richard Barley has agreed to look into this. As the Kew Guild increases its support for Kew a clear case can surely be made for some reciprocal support.

We have printed an extra run of Journals ready to distribute in autumn, we hope to see this coinciding with the beginning of the Introduction to Horticulture programme, a new chapter for the Kew Guild. Discussions are ongoing and we will bring you more news as it happens.

The success of the Award Scheme

The most direct form of charity work of the Kew Guild is our Award Scheme, which has been operational throughout the pandemic, supporting applicants where restrictions allow. Easing of these strictures will now allow projects already supported to go ahead, travel overseas for study will be possible once again and reports made available online and in our Journal.

The Award Scheme was able to make an award in March 2021 for a career changing proposal, and has held applications for the July meeting by which time their viability will be clearer. A most interesting nomination was wholeheartedly supported for the George Brown Award, to Anthony Ross for his work in designing the Kew Guild Medal. I’m pleased to say Mr Ross had accepted and will receive the Award at our next Annual Dinner. The Trustees of the Kew Guild have also made a financial contribution to the Vicky Schilling Bursary, managed by The Tree Bursary. The Vicky Schilling Bursary will provide others who have a passion for trees to share the pleasure she enjoyed by travelling around Britain and Ireland, visiting parks and gardens discovering our rich tree heritage.

The Kew Guild has made some impressive financial commitments so far in 2020/21. These should continue within the themes we have begun (clarity on our plans will be given in the five-year plan currently being worked upon) but growth is of equal importance. Our commitments thus far have come from existing reserves; we should now be seeking to expand significantly not only to recover financial outlays but also increase in scale. Trustee Harvey Stephens has agreed to lead on this item and will report at each Trustee meeting. Harvey has proven success in developing support partnerships, and will chair a working group dedicated to bringing funds into the Kew Guild. Our most recent financial report shows the Kew Guild in rude health in the broadest sense. Covenants have given us restricted funds, we also need working capital from unrestricted funds to support our growing activities.

The AGM – Monday 6th September 2021, Cambridge Cottage

The AGM will be different again this year. We have booked Cambridge Cottage on Monday 6th September, to include a bring-your-own picnic in the garden from 12:30pm. More details and booking will follow soon – and of course, it all depends on any Covid restrictions in place at the time.

The EXCEPTIONAL Annual Dinner 2022

Plans are continuing for our ambitious annual dinner in 2022. Having missed two years of this event, there is an appetite for a dinner on a scale exceeding that even of the centenary dinner held in the Natural History Museum.

We are proposing a date in early May in the Temperate House at Kew, with up to 200 people in attendance – watch this space!

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 –

Kew Guild Journals

We have had a request from the Secretary General of the European Orchid Council looking for hard copies of the first five volumes of the Kew Guild Journal (1900 – 1940). Would any member be prepared to part with their copies? Contact Sara if you can help.  


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.

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Kew Guild AGM 2021 – NOW CONFIRMED

The AGM – Monday 6th September 2021, Cambridge Cottage, RBG Kew

The AGM will be different again this year. We have booked Cambridge Cottage on Monday 6th September, to include a bring-your-own picnic in the garden from 12:30pm. More details and booking will follow soon – and of course, it all depends on any Covid restrictions in place at the time.

Join our Facebook group

We have a new private facebook group:

Run and moderated by our Secretary, Sara, this is a great place for members to connect and share experiences. We hope you will find this engaging and useful.

Members only, see you there!

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

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,

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 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.

AGM 2020 Summary

The Kew Guild CIO Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 24th October 2020 at 2pm via Zoom

The President Dave Simpson welcomed everyone to the Annual General Meeting of the Kew Guild CIO and explained to members that the Guild are required to hold an AGM and due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, we were not able to hold this meeting in person. Trustees felt that Zoom was the best way to do this, having tested another video conferencing application prior in the year. The President said that the Kew Guild AGM was also about meeting up with fellow members and that it was a shame this couldn’t happen, but welcomed members from outside the UK having the opportunity to join us.

  • There were eight Trustees, three Officers (two non-voting) and 15 voting members present.
  • As is tradition, the President led a minute silence for members who have passed during the year.
  • The Trustees and Officers of the Kew Guild met three times face-to-face and twice via video conferencing during the Presidential year 2019-20.
  • The annual accounts have been prepared, approved and signed.
  • Finances are on an even keel and investments remained steady.
  • Membership as at 4th October 2020 was 322, staying steady under the circumstances.
  • The Events of 2019 Journal was published on time and on budget.
  • The Award Scheme has had a difficult year with Awards not being able to be taken up – deadlines have been extended until September 2021.
  • Prize Day was postponed this year.
  • William Bessler has been nominated and approved for the George Brown Memorial Award.
  • Charitable donations have been made to RBG Kew and to the Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture and Landscape Trailblazer Group.
  • The Kew Guild Medal for 2021 is awarded to Professor Mark Chase, FRS who will receive the medal, along with the 2020 awardee, Peter Holman, at the 2021 Annual Dinner. Dave extended thanks to David Cutler, who has stepped down from overseeing the Medal. This will now be carried out by the Award Scheme.
  • Two Officers departed during the year – James Richardson (Membership) and Janette Ames (Archives). A warm thank you was extended to both.
  • Dave Simpson was approved as the new Membership Secretary and Christina McCulloch as Archives Officer.
  • CONSTITUTION UPDATE: Members present voted unanimously to update the Kew Guild Constitution:
    Clause (17) Taking of decisions by charity trustees. Any decision may be taken either:
    * At a meeting of the charity trustees; or
    * By resolution in writing or electronic form agreed by all of the charity trustees, which may comprise either a single document or several documents containing the text of the resolution in like form to each of which one or more charity trustees has signified their agreement.
    Change to:
    * By resolution in writing or electronic form agreed by 75% of the charity trustees, which may comprise either a single document or several documents containing the text of the resolution in like form to each of which one or more charity trustees has signified their agreement.
  • Jean Griffin proposed, and members present agreed that Trustees revisit the Constitution and Byelaws in their entirety to ensure they are up to date and relevant, that we are adhering to them, and to propose updates where necessary.
  • The events itinerary for the year was cancelled and refunds issued. The Ireland trip is still on the agenda but Brian Phillips, our Events Officer, will wait until next year to see what the situation is then. There is a waiting list available if anyone wants to join. Please email
  • Subscription rates will remain at £27 for Ordinary Members and £15 for Students.
  • Stewart Henchie and Alan Stuttard retired as Trustees. The President thanked them both for all their hard work over many years of involvement with the Guild. They will both be sorely missed. Members gave them a round of applause.
  • Richard Barley and Robert Brett were approved as new Trustees.
  • Members voted unanimously to vote Officers as distributed on the Agenda.
  • Dave Simpson handed the Presidency over to Chris Kidd who commented that Dave has had a challenging year with the main Guild events being cancelled.
  • The new President extended thanks to retiring and new Trustees and looks forward to working with everyone. Special thanks to Jennifer Alsop who is stepping back from her advisor role.
  • Chris’s aim for the year is to attract more members and build relationships with RBG Kew.
  • Sonya Abraham asked if the Guild could make the most of video conferencing to provide online lectures. Members thought this was a good idea and will look into this.
  • Cambridge Cottage has been booked for Thursday 20th May 2021 for the Annual Dinner.
  • The date of the next AGM is Saturday 4th September, venue to be confirmed.
  • The meeting was closed at 3.12pm.

Kewite-mail, August 2020

Dear Kewites and Friends,

I hope you are all well, despite COVID.  I promised to send out a further update to you in July, but as we are due a Newsletter I thought I would combine the two.  

There is still a lot of Guild activity continuing ‘behind the scenes’ and we had another Trustees meeting (online) on 23 July. Thanks again for all the messages of support we have received. They are most welcome. 


After consultation with the Charity Commission we will be going ahead with this year’s AGM. It will be an online meeting which will take place on Saturday, 24 October 2020 at 2pm. This later date will allow us to get familiar with the technology (!) to make sure the meeting runs as smoothly as possible. We plan to use ZOOM video-conferencing software. The agenda will be limited to essential items required by the Charity Commission, but we will send out all the usual reports to members beforehand. Members will be able join the meeting online but participation will be limited in order to keep everything manageable. I’m sorry that the meeting will be accessible only to those members with internet facilities but under the current pandemic restrictions we feel this is the safest way in which it can be held. Further details will be sent out in the next few weeks.

Annual Dinner 

We had a revised plan to hold the Annual Dinner in early September but I’m sad to say we have cancelled it altogether for this year. I know it’s a highlight for many members but restrictions on the numbers who could attend would be too great to make the event viable.

Here’s hoping for 2021… 


Likewise, we’ve cancelled all our Events programme for this year, with the intention, COVID-permitting, of re-organising them for next year plus a few additions that were being planned. The Ireland trip is already being re-organised and most members who wanted to go this year have expressed interest in joining next year. There is waiting list for any vacant places that may arise. Please contact Brian Phillips ( if you would like to go on the waiting list. We would welcome any suggestions for future events and offers to help organise these would also be welcome!  

Charitable donations 

As reported previously, the Guild made a one-off charitable donation to RBG, Kew of £5000, to help our Alma Mater through a difficult period and this was gratefully received. We have also made smaller donations of £1000 each to Perennial (The Gardeners Benevolent Society) and the Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture and Landscape Trailblazer Group. Again, these have been gratefully received. All these donations have been made strictly in line within the Guild’s charitable objectives and, as a condition of the donation, we expect a report from all three organisations on how our money was spent within one year of the donation being made.  

Committee appointments 

Chris Kidd will assume office as our next President at the AGM.  

Two of our Trustees will retire at the AGM: Stewart Henchie and Alan Stuttard. Both have been around for as long as anyone can remember (!) but they have given great and service to the Guild over the years, including stints as President, and we warmly thank them for all they have done.  

The names of proposed new appointees for President Elect, Vice-President and two new Trustees will be sent with the AGM paperwork. 

Archives Officer 

Janette Ames resigned as Archives Officer on 23 July to focus on her family business. We were sorry to see her go and warmly thanked her for her excellent work with the Guild archives at our last Trustees meeting. I’m pleased to say we earmarked a successor. Her name is Christina McCollough and she is the current Graduate Trainee in the RBG, Kew Archives, so it will be great to have that direct Kew link. 


The Awards Committee meeting was postponed cancelled in July (yes, because of COVID). Very few of the awards made in March have been taken up and we have agreed to extend their take-up at least until March 2021 and further if necessary. 

I am pleased to say that Professor Mark Chase FRS (RBG, Kew) has been awarded, and has accepted, the Kew Guild Medal for 2021. We have also approved a nomination for Honorary Fellowship and the new Fellow will be announced as soon as we have confirmation of their acceptance. 

News from Kew 

Kew has continued to expand its visitor offer at both the Kew and Wakehurst sites, with most glasshouses and catering facilities now open. Pre-booking is still required, with entry by timed ticket. This arrangement is going well and although visitor numbers are down overall at Kew, there has been a big increase in visits at Wakehurst. Staff are gradually returning to work on both sites although 50% are still on furlough which brings in much-needed income but the government doesn’t allow staff to do any work while on the furlough scheme. Those staff not on furlough are able to work at home, while horticultural staff have been in keeping the gardens looking great. Much work has gone into planning various COVID-related scenarios and at the present time Kew’s management are confident they will come through without too much detriment, although a second wave may mean the organisation has to revise its financial forecasts downwards, which could have significant impact.  

COVID stories 

Richard Ward and Sparkle Ward are asking members to send in their 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.  

During these challenging times we are looking for ways to engage with the membership and are considering some virtual talks and lectures. If anyone would like to participate, or if you have any ideas, please contact Secretary, Sara:


I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your support of the Guild (and me as President) during a very difficult year. I’m extremely disappointed we have been unable to hold our Events as planned, as these are so much an enjoyable part of Guild membership. Fingers crossed, our programme for next year will go ahead. Despite the challenges of COVID, the Guild is very much determined to come out of the current difficulties with renewed vigour but in order to do so we very much need your continued support and participation; I sincerely hope you will feel able to do both in the coming years. 

Floreat Kew! Very best wishes, Dave 

Kew Guild AGM 2020

The 2020 AGM, will take place on

I have pleasure in including the notice for the 2020 AGM of the Kew Guild CIO (Registered Charity number 1174033).

The meeting will be held online via Zoom in line with emergency procedures being adopted due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Please see the links below for the Notice and agenda items for the meeting.

Registration is essential if you would like to join the virtual meeting. An invitation and passcode will then be sent to you, along with instructions on how to join. Please complete the attached form and send it to me at if you wish to participate.

Nominations are sought for 2–3 Trustee vacancies arising in in the presidential year 2021–22. If you would like to be considered or wish to make a nomination, please complete and return the attached nomination form to the Secretary by 31 March 2021.

We hope as many people as possible can attend, but we are limited to 100, so if we have an overwhelming response, places will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you have a question you would like to ask, please can you submit this to the Secretary by Tuesday 20th October 2020.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Arnold,

Consultant Secretary.

Click here for: NOTICE OF AGM
Click here for: MINUTES OF THE 2019 AGM

Greetings from your Editor!

All members should have received their ‘Events of 2019’ Journals by now. In our Editorial we asked you to send in your Covid-19 stories – how it affected you, and your business or retirement. We believe that this should be recorded for posterity in the ‘Events of 2020’ Kew Guild Journal. Please email very soon. Thank you.

I’ve also recently visited Kew Gardens, and taken a few photos of what the Gardens are like at the moment. I hope you enjoy.

And best wishes. Sparkle Ward.’