I spent the first 20 years of my working life as a landscape architect with the Greater London Council, first of all in the Architects Department working on the landscape of the housing schemes in the New and Expanding Towns programme before moving to the Parks Department in 1980. When the GLC was abolished, the private company that took over Thamesmead, its assets and further development recruited me as Principal Landscape Architect. I left Thamesmead in 1999 and worked as an independent consultant on various urban regeneration projects, the principal one being the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, which included a major refurbishment of Burgess Park.
When I retired from full-time work in 2010, I felt that I had the necessary interest and skills to be able to contribute usefully to the Trust, its aims and objectives, and was very pleased to be appointed a trustee. As well as having a particular interest in parks and gardens, historic and modern, I also have a good knowledge of the problems that affect our public parks, in particular the year- on-year reduction in funding from local authorities.
I would like to see the Trust increasing its membership and the Working Groups attracting new volunteers. I feel the Trust also needs to build closer links to other organisations involved with parks and open spaces, such as Parks for London, London Green Spaces Network and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces.
I am also a member of the Events Committee of the Gardens Trust (formerly the Garden History Society) and the Royal Horticultural Society's Herbaceous Plant Committee, with a particular interest in plant trials and coordinating an ongoing review of Awards of Garden Merit for herbaceous plants.
Ruth Holmes comes from a heritage landscape background, having worked for The Royal Parks for over 11 years and felt she could offer some of her knowledge and skills.
Ruth has been a Chartered Landscape Architect for nearly 20 years, with a focus on park management, volunteering and community engagement, working in the private, public and charity sectors. She currently works at the London Legacy Development Corporation helping to care for and enhance the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Her role involves advising on the quality of landscape and public realm proposals for the developments in and around the Park. Ruth's job also allows her to volunteer as a Green Flag, Green Heritage and London in Bloom Judge – so she gets to see some great places and learn how they are engaging their communities and young people (including apprentices).
Parks and gardens are dear to her heart as they are so important for the health and wellbeing of us all. They are full of living, natural and designed heritage; a continuum of the plant material, people and built fabric - as well as happy memories. She loves Open Garden Squares Weekend. Each year the Weekend has become better and better; showcasing special green spaces across the capital as well as the enthusiasm and dedication of countless volunteers. The Trust plays a vital role in conserving and protecting London's parks and gardens as a statutory consultee for planning applications. Ruth hopes to encourage more volunteers to help with this so that the Trust can extend the network of people keeping an eye on developments and lead on defending space under threat, like Victoria Tower Gardens.
Lisa Kiew is a Chartered Management Accountant with over 15 years experience in the charity and not-for-profit sector. She has worked for a wide range of organisations, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Age Scotland, Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and is currently the Head of Finance and Resources of the Religious Society of Friends, with strategic responsibility for Finance, IT, HR, Property and Fundraising, as well as acting as Company Secretary for their trading subsidiary. She looks forward to using her professional skills to support the Trust in its purpose to conserve, champion and celebrate green space across London for the benefit of all.
Lisa was one of the poets-in-residence during the last Open Garden Squares Weekend; it was a wonderful opportunity to engage with visitors as well as to develop her own project about non-native species in London gardens.
While most of his working life has been involved in organisations both large and small in the business and government sectors, Richard Martin has always had a great love and interest in the outdoors and wildlife.
He was born and brought up in South London and it was natural therefore that the nearby parks and commons became the home for his sports, social and family activities. His first Saturday job, as a teenager, was working in the garden of a nearby large house and those early experiences gave him a lifelong interest in flowers, shrubs and trees. For the past four years he has been re-establishing a garden in a village in the South Downs National Park – traditional cottage garden borders in the front and with a more exotic Mediterranean feel in the back.
Richard hopes to bring his financial and management skills into use to help continue the Trust's development into a strong and vibrant organisation which can broaden its influence across conservation and heritage issues as well as contribute to the education and support of local communities.
Celia Mead has worked in the heritage, cultural and charity sector for 28 years as a marketing and business development specialist. She says: ‘London is known worldwide for its beautiful parks and gardens. I've lived all over London and in every place my quality of life was determined by the access – or lack of it – to green space. I'm inspired by the words of the Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill, who worked among the poor of London, about the need for ALL people to be able to access outdoor space: "We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently." She said these "green sitting rooms" should "be kept for the enjoyment, refreshment, and rest of those who have no country house".'
Celia wants to see the Trust go from strength to strength in its campaigning work and its lively events programme; in particular she wants to help it find and grow further support and income generation using her fundraising and development experience. She also enjoys learning from the garden historians and experts already involved with the Trust.
What started out as a diverting idea to do: an evening class at Birkbeck in Garden History led me in a whole new direction! I discovered this fascinating subject towards the end of 15 years' work in service provision for homeless people. Later, while completing my MSc in Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes, I worked as a freelance researcher and as project manager on an HLF-funded Octavia Hill garden recreation project in Bankside, Red Cross Garden. This project gave a whole new life to a lost treasure and the garden is much loved by local people; a triumph of the strength of volunteer and staff effort.
Volunteering as a researcher and then co-chair with the LPGT Researchers Group meant I developed new understanding and skills in something I feel passionately about. Researching and writing about London's less well-known open spaces reveals all sorts of new tales to tell – and we want to ensure that the Trust gets even better at telling them!
I also developed the Historic Landscape Project for what is now the Gardens Trust for five years, finding ways to bring the network of County Gardens Trusts together to achieve more in research and conservation through training and developing volunteers and linking with key external bodies. This bolstered my determination as a Trustee since 2012, and now as Vice Chair, to ensure that LPGT is a robust and influential organisation and thereby a meaningful advocate for our precious parks and gardens. Achieving this absolutely relies on the strength of our volunteer force working with the staff team at Duck Island, and drawing in wider support.
In my day job I now largely worry about London's listed buildings as a Heritage at Risk Projects Officer for Historic England, but maintain my passionate landscape interest. I'm a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute and would like to ensure that more landscape architects are inspired by an understanding of London's extraordinary landscape heritage.
I am a scientist by academic background with a BSc in Mathematics & Biophysics and an MSc in Information Science. I'm also a lifelong Londoner, now in Bromley after spending most of my life in Bayswater with a short stay in Hammersmith.
By training and profession, I am a Chartered Secretary (Fellow of the ICSA) with 30+ years' experience in governance and company secretarial work. That includes organisations in the public, private and charitable sectors, including Transport for London (where I set up original governance systems), ICSA (the Governance Institute) and Age Concern England (which merged with Help the Aged to form Age UK).
After retirement, I answered an advertisement for a volunteer to take minutes of LPGT Council meetings. There were only three meetings a year, so it wasn't very onerous. Gradually, I became more involved and my role expanded to include Executive meetings and general advice on governance. I became a member of the Trust, learned more about it and now enjoy events and activities.
A few years later, I was appointed Secretary to the Trust and, in 2014, elected as a Trustee. With my broad governance experience, my role has been to introduce and monitor good practice policies and procedures so that Trustees and other stakeholders can be sure the organisation is properly governed and managed. It has also involved supporting the other officers on governance and practice. Over the next few years, the Trust faces challenges that are exciting and interesting, and the six new trustees appointed in 2017 have proved to be invigorating.
I am not a natural gardener and don't have green fingers, but I enjoy visiting and learning about gardens. Although formally retired, I am also Honorary Secretary of the Gardens Trust and the part-time Company Secretary and Administrator of the Gas Safe Charity.
As a landscape architect involved primarily in London park projects, I believe them to be one of the city's most valued assets and democratic spaces. I'm passionate about their conservation, restoration and enhancement and proud to have led many such park projects over the last 15 years. I'm also Chair of the Planning & Conservation Working Group for the Trust. This role is especially important now, when parks are under increasing threats from budget cuts due to austerity and growing development pressures of all kinds; and we at the Trust are a statutory consultee on planning applications that affect London's landscapes.
As a landscape architect, one of my main interests is the integration of contextual new design and restoration within historic parks, as well as new park design. People are rightly passionate about public green space; so managing change and enabling sensitive new design to work for today's communities is key to successful projects. Respecting the historic environment, leading large multidisciplinary teams and securing the necessary consents are also essential. It's crucial to work closely with the park's communities and clients, often involving participatory design to achieve consensus in controversial and complex projects. Our green spaces need to provide for diverse uses under increasing and often competing pressures, especially now – with maintenance budgets dwindling, so considered design solutions are paramount.
My London park projects include new works and the restoration of Victoria, Clissold and Wandle parks, Forty Hall, Northala Fields, Arnold Circus and most recently, Brompton Cemetery, as well as projects within the Royal Parks. One of my most interesting overseas projects was our recently completed masterplan strategy for Gorky Park, Moscow. I am a Director of Sally Prothero Landscape Architecture and also LDA Design, leading environmental design consultancy.
I consolidated my love of parks and green spaces when I worked for the National Trust at Stowe Landscape Gardens. I was there for 17 years, starting as a volunteer and then becoming Estate Secretary until I retired in 2009. While at Stowe, I liaised with contractors, visitors, volunteers and donors and brought that experience to Duck Island. I joined the Trust as an administrative volunteer in the same year, was Company Secretary from 2010 to 2014, and have been Treasurer since 2012. The Trust has been on an exciting journey and is now on the brink of even greater accomplishments with the input of our new Trustees.
The first time I crossed the bridge into Duck Island Cottage was like entering a parallel universe, albeit one with no running water inside. It is quite surreal conducting business and looking up to see a parade of pelicans going past the window. It seems to me that both the pelicans and the squirrels of the Park have well-practised routines to entertain the tourists.
What greeted me in Duck Island Cottage was a hive of activity with dedicated volunteers pursuing their tasks, all with great humour and flexibility. The Trust is extremely fortunate to benefit from such a large number of volunteers. From those who keep the office running to those who undertake research and those who set up and run our talks and tours. Not to mention all those who are involved in making the Open Gardens Squares Weekend such a success.
A Treasurer's view of the world can sometimes be a bit jaded, and the role doesn't automatically conjure up images of excitement and glamour. However, when the role is to help to facilitate talented people to develop their initiatives and achieve ever-higher standards in their activities, then it is the best job in the world. It is also great fun. My view of the sector is widened by also being Treasurer and Trustee of the Gardens Trust.