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New RHS president puts diversity as a priority

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has today appointed Keith Weed as its new president. Keith is committed to increasing the gardening charity’s focus on sustainability and helping to mitigate climate change as a key priority, as well as improving diversity within the industry.

He will be calling on all gardeners, both existing and the many recent new gardeners, to help the gardening revolution grow by not only continuing to make gardens and local areas more beautiful but to make the environment more sustainable too.

Keith Weed says: “The UK has led the world over many centuries in innovating and creating amazing gardens and now it is our time to lead again in the role of gardeners as the guardians of gardens and environmental and social sustainability.”

Keith is renowned for championing new ways of integrating sustainability into businesses as a key driver of growth and impact, while reducing their environmental footprint and increasing their positive social impact.

Whilst he was chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever he led the company’s groundbreaking sustainability programme, including the creation of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.  He retired from Unilever in May 2019.

Some 15 million people visited the RHS website in the first 100 days of lockdown (in the whole of last year 20 million people visited the site) and 200% more people came to RHS advice pages to find out how to grow food. Over Virtual RHS Chelsea Flower Show more young people visited the RHS website than ever before – visitors under 35 formed 28% of the online audience, some 588,000 of 2.1 million, up 118% from last year. RHS’ Instagram following grew by 20% in the 25-34 range between April and June.

Keith is also looking to focus on improving inclusivity in the industry. He says: “Another important priority for both the RHS and the wider horticultural world is to help increase diversity in the horticulture industry and in this charity; on our boards, in our teams, in our gardens, at our shows and across our work. This will continue to be a collective and collaborative approach where we need to work with people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities, all ages, and the wider horticulture industry to shape the future of the RHS.

“As the RHS continues to reach out to younger people we need to make the message clearer than ever that gardening can make a positive difference to our lives and the environment, inviting more people to join the magic and positive impact of gardening.”

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