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 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 – President

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.

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.

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.

Ross Underwood

Married with two children. I graduated BA Hons from Keele University. I began my career in horticulture at Bridgemere and David Austin Roses. In 2007 I began work as a gardener at Hodnet Hall and have been Head Gardener until July 2023. I am currently Head Gardener at Goldstone Hall Hotel.

I am also an on-call firefighter for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service based at Hodnet Station.

Paul Dobson

Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School for over fourteen years, specialising in digital and strategic marketing. This includes Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), inbound and outbound Marketing, social media and influencer marketing. He also lectures and a practitioner of the digital marketing of crypto and NFT projects. His PhD (currently studying) is the Strategic Marketing of Social Enterprises.

He is the course leader for the MSc Digital Marketing Management. While at Staffordshire University he has also been a key member in setting up the MSc in Digital Marketing Management and the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA). He has also been the Regional Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketers (CIM).

Paul is successful in supporting businesses in Digital Marketing; examples include: taking a hotel/restaurant from page three of Google to the top of the first page for key search terms, enabling a restaurant to be fully booked mid-week, receiving a 600% return on investment (ROI) for paid advertising, and substantially increasing a charity’s online donations.

Prior to lecturing, Paul was a Founder and CEO of Aim for Excellence, Ltd, a team of consultants that specialised in growth and turn-around for commercial, government and non-profit organisations in various countries. This includes leading lean/business process re-engineering (BPR) projects for international logistics companies, training 1000s in performance management, project management to PRINCE2 standards, process management, BPR, and European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) assessments, etc. This also included working with major consultancies in the UK, France, Germany and the USA. He is a PRINCE2 Project Management Practitioner.

Paul is a Trustee of The Mitchell Arts Centre, Approach Staffordshire, Better Together Community Support and supports the local charities such as 6 Towns Radio (6TR) and North Staffs TV.

Anne Lakin  ACA , BA Hons  – Trustee

 Anne Lakin joined as a trustee in 2023 having recently retired as office managing partner of the RSM office based in Stoke on Trent. RSM provide Audit, Taxation and consulting services worldwide.

She originally trained with KPMG and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1988 and  worked for KPMG until November 2002 when she transferred to RSM to become a partner of that firm. Whilst at KPMG she worked in London , Manchester and Bermuda.

Anne was an audit partner with over 20 years’ experience, undertaking assignments with growing owner managed businesses, internationally based groups and local charities.  This role included a significant interaction with management and board levels including detailed presentations to boards and audit committees.

Anne was previously also a trustee treasurer for 8 years at Home Start Stoke on Trent which supported families with children under 5 years of age. Anne’s other current roles include Non-executive chair of Reliable Power Solutions Group Limited.

Anne lives in Newcastle and is totally committed to the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent area.  She loves being out and about in the countryside and considers Dorothy Clive a fantastic location for enjoying the gardens and countryside. Anne is keen to support the charity due to the history of the gardens, the mental health benefits the gardens can bring to its visitors, whilst also providing an friendly social space for all age groups.