Richard Capewell, the Chief Executive of Perennial, the charity for all UK horticulturists, has announced his plan to retire in Spring 2017. The charity is currently seeking his replacement – more details can be found here.
Having studied economics and trained as a social worker, Richard spent the majority of his career in the social care and charity sector, most notably at Mencap where he worked for 20 years. He joined Perennial as CEO in 1999 and in his time at the charity he has been responsible for its evolution from a very traditional organisation reflecting its Victorian origins as a benevolent fund for retired gardeners, to a fully inclusive charity for all horticulturists. He has broadened, expanded and refocused its work, to include specialist casework and debt advice services, alongside its long-established benevolent fund activities of financial help and retirement housing. And in his time at the helm, Perennial has expanded its work with younger people through the merger with the Royal Fund for Gardeners’ Children and the establishment of the Lironi Training Fund.
“My background in social care and my interest in providing practical services to those who cannot, for one reason or another, represent themselves, has defined my time here at Perennial. I feel very proud to have overseen so many positive changes within the organisation, from establishing our free and confidential casework and debt advice service that annually sees an increase in clients, to ensuring all our services are available to all those who work in or are retired from horticulture. This job is hugely varied and enormously satisfying and working alongside such a group of passionate and dedicated people makes it a true pleasure.”
In addition to expanding the way in which Perennial delivers services to clients, Richard has overseen negotiations to bring two further gardens of significance under the care and protection of Perennial. York Gate Garden, near Leeds, had already been bequeathed to Perennial when Richard took the reins in 1999 but since then Perennial has agreed to take on the management and upkeep of Fullers Mill Garden in Suffolk and has accepted the wishes of Sir Roy Strong CH to continue to maintain and open The Laskett Gardens in Herefordshire after his death.
“Perennial is well placed to look after significant gardens that benefit horticulture and their local communities. I have been privileged to spend time with both Bernard Tickner at Fullers Mill Garden and Sir Roy Strong at The Laskett Gardens to discuss their wishes for the future conservation of their horticultural life’s work and I am thrilled to have been able to agree an arrangement that will safeguard those gardens for generations to come.”
Speaking about Richard’s decision to retire, and reflecting on his time at the charity, Perennial Board of Trustees Chair and owner of New Hopetoun Gardens in Edinburgh, Dougal Philip, said:
“Richard has been a pleasure to work with. His commitment to ensuring Perennial relentlessly pursues its goal to deliver first class services to those who need them most, has been the driving force of the organisation for nearly two decades. His legacy will be an industry that is much more aware of the charity dedicated to serving it and an organisation ready to take on the challenge of becoming bigger, better and more widespread in the future. On behalf of all the Perennial Trustees, its clients and its staff, I would like to thank Richard for all he has done for the charity over so many years and to wish him and his wife Gill all happiness for the future."
Richard will continue in his role as Trustee of Lantra (the land-based and environmental sector awards body) and hopes to continue to voluntarily contribute to the world of horticulture. He continues:
“I look forward to helping find my successor over the coming months. This job offers lots of opportunity and challenge to someone with creative leadership qualities and a passion for horticulture and the care of all those who dedicate their lives to it. It has been truly inspiring to work with such a brilliant team and I wish them all the best of luck in the future.”
To find out more about the role of CEO of Perennial, visit the website at www.perennial.org.uk/jobs or call 0800 093 8510 for details.