Chairman Sir Brian Fender (Chairman)

The creation of the Dorothy Clive garden by the late Colonel Harry Clive was an inspirational act. By setting up the Willoughbridge Garden Trust in 1958 Colonel Clive put down a mark in history that would release creativity in developing the Garden and provide endless hours of pleasure to a wide variety of visitors.

Today as the Garden enters the second half-century of the Trust’s existence there are numerous special features. It is certainly one of the best Rhododendron and Azalea gardens in the country with around 250 species and cultivars, but it is much more. Under the care of George Lovatt the Head Gardener and until 2008 Paul McCauley as Curator, the Garden has developed strengths throughout the year

For me a major appeal of the garden is its intimacy. As a garden it is easy to relate to. For some it is the shape, colour and setting of the landscape in Staffordshire but with the rural characteristics of Cheshire and Shropshire. For others it is the individual plants and a font of ideas to take home for their own gardens however small.

The garden receives no public funds but it has an even more important resource – the willing help and support of many individuals. Foremost are the Friends who support the Garden with donations and their time. Volunteers are an important, indeed essential, element of the success of Dorothy Clive from those who help on the gate or with gardening tasks, to the Trustees who also give of their time and expertise enthusiastically.

Above all I would like visitors to the garden to feel they have a relationship with the Garden, a collection of happy memories or a sense of ownership. If you haven’t been to the Garden we will be pleased to see you, if you have been or are Members bring your friends. And please let us have your comments and views.

Colin Barcroft (Treasurer)

Colin spent his working life in the accountancy profession. He qualified as an ACA in 1984 with KPMG and became a partner in 1987. His early years experience were very broadly based but after becoming a partner Colin mainly dealt with audit and Corporate Finance work. His CF experience covered M&A work, many MBO’s and flotation work (latterly mainly AIM). He also had significant due diligence experience. After joining Baker Tilly in 2002 when KPMG left the local market he headed the Northern CF team for several years covering approximately 10 offices. Since retirement in 2009 Colin has been involved with four charities as a director/treasurer or adviser. Colin has always been interested in gardening, and in particular growing vegetables, and he is really excited about the edible woodland currently being landscaped and planted at the Dorothy Clive Garden.

Keith Atkey

Apart from a brief brush with the law (he was a trainee solicitor for two years) and a spell of teaching English in Spain, Keith’s working life has been spent with plants outdoors. In his twenties he worked on an agricultural estate in N. Yorkshire and on a vineyard and olive grove in Chianti. He has been an enthusiastic gardener and plant lover for most of his adult life, an interest which has been developed and amplified during the 30 years or so during which he has worked for Bridgemere Nursery and Garden World. He gives lectures to local clubs and organisations and can occasionally he heard on BBC Radio Stoke’s Gardening phone-in. He has for many years been on the committee of the N. Staffs branch of Plant Heritage.

Keith’s special connection with the Dorothy Clive Garden stretches back throughout his career at Bridgemere, which has had a close association with the garden from its earliest days.

Ann Cornes

Born into a farming family in North Wales and educated there, Ann trained and then worked as a Path Lab Technician at the Maelor Hospital Wrexham, Broadgreen Hospital Liverpool and Chester Royal Infirmary. In 1966 Ann worked in Biology Dept. Keele University and in 1996 took early retirement. The Dorothy Clive Garden has been a very special place for Ann for a long time and in 1999 she joined The Friends of Willoughbridge becoming Treasurer in 2001. Ann was elected on to the Board of Trustees in 2011.

 Ann Elisabeth Fisher

Ann is a partner and head of Business Law at Hatchers Solicitors in Shrewsbury. She originally trained as a biochemist,converting to law once her four children were at school. Ann has had a lifelong love of plants and gardens, with a particular interest in historic landscapes. She is passionate about education and is very excited about the many and varied opportunities for people of all ages to develop their knowledge, skills and experience at the Dorothy Clive Garden. Ann served as High Sheriff of Staffordshire during 2014/2015.

John Richard Ravenscroft

John is a current holder of the Victoria Medal of Honor and is the founder of the internationally renowned Bridgemere Garden World, as well as being a leading horticultural entrepreneur. John ‘retired’ in 2006 and is now developing a nearby nursery specialising in unusual trees and shrubs.

John Morton

John has lived in North Staffordshire for 40 years and he has worked at Royal Doulton for eight years in Public Relations, latterly being responsible for the company’s three museums, and its tourism business. John then worked in marketing roles in two Universities: Staffordshire and University College Bretton Hall, where he was Head of External Relations. John then joined the  New Vic (through passion) in 1998 and have happily been here since. He has been a board member of Audiences Central, the regional audience development agency (now defunct); and Q Arts, a Derby-based visual arts organisation and now the Willoughbridge Garden Trust.

Julie Arkle

Julie has been involved with the charitable sector for some years and has a breadth of experience ranging from setting up a local branch of NSPCC, acting as a trustee of a local hospice, a governor of a local school as well as being as representative on the National Lottery Charities board on a local level. Julie is also a member of the Douglas Macmillan Silver Jubilee Committee as well as a volunteer.  Julie also has a keen interested in horticulture, was a student at the English Gardening School at Chelsea Physic Garden, has a diploma in Horticulture and Plantsmanship and has been an assisted plant designer  in design implementation.

Tim Edwards

Tim completed a course in Commercial Horticulture at Writtle Agricultural College in 1986. He subsequently took over the family business immediately after finishing college.

The business now comprises several nurseries producing plants for the amenity market, the garden centre market and for the green roof industry.

Within the Trade, Tim has represented both the National Farmers Union and the Horticultural Trades Association on matters of Nursery Stock. He is currently chair the HTA’s ‘Amenity Suppliers Group’ and sits on its ‘Ornamentals Committee’. In the NFU he sits on the Board for Horticulture.

Tim represents the UK at the European Nursery Stock Association (ENA), where he has been President since 2014; and at the International Horticultural Producers Association (AIPH) where he is currently Vice President.

Outside of work, Tim is a keen gardener and interested in sculpture, architecture and mathematics. He keeps fit by running and skiing and generally spending time in the mountains.

Jane Hughes

Jane Hughes recently retired from the world of education and joined the garden as a volunteer in August 2016 initially as Education Officer with the aim to promote school visits to the garden. The school link has not flourished due to transport costs to schools and general cut backs in school trips. Jane has since developed an adult educational programme of workshops usually over the weekends. The workshops range from arts-based workshops delivered by local artists to food-based workshops taking advantage of the current interest in all things food related. The workshops have grown in number and popularity and are now a regular part of life at the Dorothy Clive Garden, they also bring a welcome contribution to funds. Jane is now also taking bookings for weddings at the garden which again is growing. Jane is a celebrations officer with Shropshire Council so has the expertise to advise couples on their big day. Jane became a trustee at the Garden in December 16.

Theocharis Kyriacou

Theo is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Keele University. He graduated with a BEng (Hons) degree in Electronic Engineering (Systems) from the University of Sheffield in 2000 and a PhD in Computer Science from Plymouth University in 2004. Between 2004 and 2007 he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Essex. He joined the School of Computing and Mathematics at Keele University as a Lecturer in 2007.

Theo hopes to bring his science and technology expertise to the Dorothy Clive Garden in order to help disseminate the horticultural and botanical knowledge that the garden has to offer and in order to make visits to the garden more engaging and interesting.

Neil Bragg

“Neil Bragg originally trained as an Agricultural Chemist and went to work for the then Government department MAFF.  After initial training and work for the then Field Drainage division Neil did a further degree in Soil Science and was transferred to the Field Drainage Exp unit to work under sub-contract to the National open cast coal exec. This contract lasted five years after which Neil transferred to the Soil Science group of MAFF ADAS in Wolves where he took over responsibility for Horticulture.

Neil left ADAS in 1992 and moved to work for BULRUSH Horticulture Ltd and was made the Product Development Director in 1998. Neil also ran the technical committee for the British Bedding plant association of which he later became the Chairman. Between 2007-2014 Neil was appointed Chairman of the Horticultural Development Company which was part of the Agricultural Horticultural Development Board, charged with administering the collected Growers levies for the development of R&D for the industry.

Neil continues in his role as the PD director for BHL and serves on Defra expert groups looking at substrate design beyond the use of Peat. Neil writes in a number of journals and has published widely on the subject of substrates and their design and use in Horticulture. Neil was awarded the Veitch memorial medal by the RHS in 2015 for his services to science into practice in horticulture.”


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