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Growing recognition in the Power of Horticulture as RHS

Director General Receives CBE at Buckingham Palace
by RHS
March 16, 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 XXX 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.”

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