New Director General for RHS

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the appointment of a new Director General (DG). Clare Matterson CBE, (pictured left) who is currently Executive Director of Engagement at the Natural History Museum (NHM) will join the RHS on 9th May 2022 for a period of transition with the current Director General, Sue Biggs CBE before taking over on 14th June 2022.

In her current role at NHM, Clare led the development of the new strategy to create ‘advocates for the planet’ and drove forward initiatives including the Urban Nature Project. She has also led the transformation of its digital activities which resulted in a large increase across all online platforms now reaching more than 15 million people globally.

Clare has also seen a significant part of her career at the Welcome Trust where, as Director of Strategy, she produced the charitable foundation’s 2015 strategy that set its first priorities in mental health, planetary health and antibiotic resistance.

A keen gardener, Clare has been a member of the RHS for nearly 30 years and believes that gardening has the power to foster an important connection to the natural world, giving everyone the chance to learn from nature whether from their own plot, a community garden or a simple window box: “I can’t wait to start and meet everyone who works at, volunteers for and is involved with this extraordinary charity and the wider horticultural world,” said Clare.

Clare added that it is both an honour and joy to be the next Director General of the RHS: “The RHS is an organisation that matters and can make a real difference to the world. Gardens have such a huge role to play to shape a more positive future. It is in our gardens that we find answers for people and planet, for community, for inclusion and for wellbeing. 

“I’m delighted to be the person who will lead the RHS to show how through our gardens and plants, however big or small, urban or rural, we can all have a direct experience and connection with nature.”

She is a firm believer that the ‘H’ for horticultural in the RHS is core to the charity and recognises how the joy of growing plants and gardening can have a positive impact on people and society.

Keith Weed CBE, President of the RHS said that everyone was very excited about the appointment of Clare as the next Director General of the horticultural charity: “The RHS has been leading the way championing the difference we can all make through gardens and growing plants to create positive change, mitigate against the climate and biodiversity crises and help our health and wellbeing – these are topics that Clare is also passionate about and throughout her career she has believed in connecting people with nature. We have 200 years of gardening knowledge at the RHS and more than anything we love sharing everything we’ve learnt to help people garden and enjoy gardens.

With Clare’s vision, leadership and creativity, I’m looking forward to everyone at the RHS working together to make the charity an even bigger force for good in gardening and helping the planet through people and plants,” he said.

Clare joins at an exciting time for the RHS. Last year saw the opening of the fifth garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, and the opening of RHS Hilltop – the home of Gardening Science at RHS Wisley. Gardening has also seen a resurgence since the onset of the pandemic and membership of the RHS is reflecting this with membership having just passed 600,000 members.

We wish Clare every success in her new role as she takes the RHS into the future.