Growing recognition in the Power of Horticulture as RHS Director General Receives CBE at Buckingham

Thursday 16 March 2017

The RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, has today received the award of the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) at an investiture ceremony performed by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales in Buckingham Palace. She has been awarded a CBE in recognition for services to the environment and horticulture.

Sue has been Director General of the RHS since 2010, previously she worked in the travel industry heading up Kuoni for 25 years.*

Since her appointment at the RHS 7 years ago, Biggs has transformed the 213 year old gardening charity: increasing the reach of its community gardening campaigns, growing its membership to 475,000 inspiring more people to garden, and embarking on a £160 million investment programme into the future of horticulture**.

Sue has played a significant role in bringing the horticulture industry together to create the Ornamental Horticulture Round Table Group (OHRG) to promote the Garden and Landscape industry and its far-reaching benefits to the economy and the nation, delivering skills, techniques and products that have vast economic and environmental significance. The UK’s 22 million private gardens, trees and green-space act as a vitally important habitat for pollinators, mitigate against flooding and tackle air pollution.

The group also has a shared vision that horticulture can play a significant role in the treatment of some chronic health conditions and promotes the importance of green spaces with a focus on health and wellbeing. The work of OHRG has made great progress in highlighting the significant benefits that horticultural social prescribing can bring to patients and the beneficial economic and social return that such an approach could deliver, such as freeing up GPs' time and other financial savings within the NHS.

Sue Biggs, says: “I feel extremely proud to receive a CBE on behalf of everyone at the RHS, but I’m even prouder that the horticulture industry is receiving the recognition it so deserves in the role it can play to improve the environmental and economic health and well-being of this nation.

“In a challenging fiscal outlook, the work of the OHRG is more crucial than ever. The garden industry plays a significant role in implementing plant health policy and supporting the environment and our industry will play a vital role in policy for the post-EU landscape.

“Horticulture, gardening and access to green space present an unrivalled opportunity to improve the nation’s health and quality of life. By encouraging the nation to get outside and garden, some of the wider determinants of ill health can be tackled in a cost effective manner.

“The growing evidence base suggests that offering horticulture therapy through social prescribing can have a major positive effect on long term outcomes of treating conditions such as mental health, obesity and physical inactivity, ageing and social isolation. Incorporating this low cost, high-impact treatment will ultimately reduce the health spend, making it good for both the physical and fiscal health of the nation.

“After 30 years in the travel industry I know how much garden tourism can contribute to this country’s economic health. We also urgently need the skills to grow our own food. Our commercial food production, gardening and landscape industries are amongst the finest in the world – we should be proud of them and do everything we can to boost their success.

“For me, this CBE is a step further to everyone taking horticulture seriously and appreciating the immense benefits that greening this country and investing in horticulture will bring.”



Notes to editors

For more information please contact the RHS Press Office via or call 0207 821 3688.

*Sue Biggs joined Budget Holidays in London after attending Nottingham University and completing her Masters at the University of Manchester. In 1982, she began a 25 year career at Kuoni Travel that started as a Product Executive creating faraway holidays, and ended with 9 years as Managing Director of this country's leading long-haul tour operator Kuoni.

* *The £160 million investment will help to create a more sustainable and better society now and for generations to come: a major new RHS fifth garden will be created in Salford, urban gardens will be grown for cities, gardening science will better equip us to deal with pests and diseases and the RHS will support community gardening in an even more direct and meaningful way.

The complete 7 RHS £160 million investment projects are:

RHS Garden Wisley:
• New horticultural science and learning centre
• New visitor building and experience
• Building a vibrant Wisley Village

RHS Garden Bridgewater: Opening our fifth garden
RHS Garden Harlow Carr: New horticultural content
RHS Garden Hyde Hall: Learning centre and new horticultural experience
RHS Lindley Library: Sharing our collections and improving the customer experience
Community Outreach and Urban Gardens: Expanding our reach and impact and bringing gardening to city communities
Horticulture Matters: Raising the profile of careers in horticulture

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262