Huw Francis replaces Rosie Plummer at National Botanic Garden of Wales

An appointee from outside horticulture will bring "commercial skills" to the grant-cut Carmarthenshire garden.

Swansea-born Huw Francis lived in Carmarthenshire for five years while working as an International Trade Adviser for the International Business Wales Division of Welsh Government. For the past nine years, he has been the first chief executive of Scotland`s largest community landowner, Stòras Uibhist, located in the Outer Hebrides.

Educated at Olchfa Comprehensive and Cranfield University, he is a graduate engineer with business and mentoring qualifications, and professional experience working in operational, development  and consultancy roles.

The strategic manager "has strong commercial skills, financial acumen, and experience of working in the public, private and voluntary sectors". He has previously worked in Hong Kong, Turkey and France, and is also a published author of fiction and non-fiction books.

He said: "It is a great to be coming home to Wales and working in such a fabulous place. I’m looking forward to the challenge enormously and working with the talented team at the garden."

Francis replaces Dr Rosie Plummer, who has spoken of the difficulties of running the garden "on a shoestring".

Carmarthenshire council has said that funding would reduce from £70,000 in 2015 to £50,000 in 2016 and £30,000 in 2017-18 but it stipulated that financing would depend on the garden improving its use of the Welsh language and becoming more sustainable.

Board of Trustees chairman Rob Jolliffe said: "We are delighted that Huw is joining us. He will be a real asset as we seek to take the garden forward into a bright, new future."

Francis will take up his new role on June 13.

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