New RHS President Elected

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Sir Nicholas Bacon appointed President of the RHS

Sir Nicholas Bacon Bt OBE DL has been elected as President of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Sir Nicholas has been Treasurer since 1 July 2010.

Sir Nicholas succeeds Elizabeth Banks DL, who has been president of the RHS since July 2010.

Sir Nicholas says: “I have been involved with the RHS for many years and the charity’s breadth of work never fails to impress and inspire me. I’m delighted to become President of an organisation bursting with enthusiasm and expertise to bring out the gardener in all of us.

“I believe the RHS must continue to take bold steps to raise the profile of Horticulture and why it matters, especially with many British nurseries struggling after another year of challenging weather and with increasingly aggressive European competition. Our campaign to support the industry to attract young people into Horticulture remains vital to fill a critical skills gap.

“The UK is increasingly threatened by issues such as the growing number of pests and diseases from abroad, weather patterns and associated drought and flooding and also declining numbers of pollinating insects, particularly bees. The role people, especially gardeners, and garden plants can play in reducing these and other threats must not be underestimated. RHS scientific research and sharing our knowledge to empower gardeners to make a positive difference is more important today than ever.

“We are about to embark on some of the most exciting projects in the RHS’ history through a major investment programme*. It will be a privilege to be President to help deliver these and continue the outstanding work Elizabeth Banks has achieved over the last three years.

“Engaging with the RHS takes you on a journey where you never stop learning, where there is always something to see or do and where you realise simple actions can do a great deal of good and cause a lot of happiness. I hope more people will be moved to support this charity and gain from all it can offer.”

Sir Nicholas is passionate about growing plants and, at his own garden at Raveningham Hall in Norfolk, runs an apprenticeship scheme for gardeners and initiatives to help teach children about plants. Sir Nicholas’ career has combined managing his estate and wider property interests with extensive experience in the not for profit sector.

The election of Alastair (Sandy) Muirhead as Treasurer of the RHS was also confirmed at the Annual General Meeting at RHS Garden Wisley, in Surrey, on 25 June 2013.

Sandy has been involved with the RHS for 16 years, initially joining the Herbaceous Plant Committee in 1997. He has been a member of Council since 2007. In Sandy’s professional career he has been an accountant, corporate financier and Investor. He brings to the RHS the experience of assisting a wide range of organisations in their commercial strategies and governance and control structures.

Two Council Members were re-elected, David Haselgrove and David Morrison and one new Council Member, Lady Tollemache, was elected. Lady Tollemache has been on the Herbaceous Plant Committee since 2002 and a regular judge at RHS Shows.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Hayley Monckton in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3045 or email

*In 2011 the RHS raised £18 million from granting a 999 year lease of the RHS’ Lawrence Hall and Conference Centre in London to Westminster School, for investment in the future of horticulture. The Society is also embarking on a major fundraising campaign to raise a further £9 million. Over the next five years the major investment programme of £27 million will see the charity becoming more accessible and relevant and inspiring a worldwide audience. The initiatives planned include:
• The RHS plans to redevelop the Lindley Hall and Library to create a stunning, new space for a larger, open plan library and exhibition gallery.
• The Society plans to significantly invest in its science work over the next five years.
• The RHS plans to create its first inner city garden. The ‘Urban Garden’ would an oasis of green for local residents.
• The RHS plans to increase its grass roots presence in urban and rural locations across the UK. In Yorkshire great partnerships and initiatives are being forged. Also, for the first time, the RHS and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) are partnering to share their combined wealth of knowledge, to build networks, and to educate and inspire people across Scotland.
• The RHS plans to invest in its online presence to provide a more engaging, interactive website with a wealth of ideas and expertise.
• To give visitors at RHS Wisley an inspirational learning experience, the RHS plans include creating additional teaching rooms, and a new exhibition space and event facility. RHS Wisley’s entrance will also be transformed to uplift the sense of arrival that befits a garden of such international importance.
• The plan is to dramatically increase spectacular horticultural content at RHS Hyde Hall, including a spectacular cultivated perennial meadow and a Mediterranean edible garden, featuring olives, lavender and grapevines.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, 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.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

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

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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