Mary Berry replaces Joe Swift at National Gardens Scheme

Great British Bake Off TV star Mary Berry has replaced TV gardener Joe Swift as National Gardens Scheme president.


Swift had the role for six years after replacing Zac Goldsmith MP, who is now running for London mayor. Swift promised he wouldn't try and emulate Goldsmith.

Berry said she had opened her garden for the NGS for 20 years and "no-one has ever even left a cigarette end". She added that potential garden openers fear burglary and mess but she has not experienced this in her Penn, Buckinghamshire garden, where she provides tea and cake for visitors annually.

The TV baker is also an RHS ambassador. Her assistant is RHS The Garden editor Chris Young's sister.

NGS has dropped the 'Yellow Book' title of its annual guide to gardens opening for charity.

It has commissioned the King's Fund to research health and gardening, to produce a report in May, as part of a new NGS health focus.

The scheme donated a record £2.7m in 2015, with £130,000 going for funding hospital gardens for Horatio's Garden, £75,000 to RHS trainee gardeners, £30,000 to National Trust trainees and £10,000 to the Garden Museum. Most went to Macmillan and other big charities.

Some 3,800 gardens will open in 2016, with 2,350 selling plants.

The NGS is Perennial’s largest single donor and its contribution of £150,000 last year represented over 20 per cent of voluntary donations to the charity, excluding legacies.
NGS beneficiaries are: • Macmillan Cancer Support £500,000 • Marie Curie £500,000 • Hospice UK £500,000 • Carers Trust £375,000 • Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) £250,000 • Perennial £130,000 • Horatio’s Garden £130,000 • Parkinson’s UK £100,000 • Guest Charity: MS Society £100,000 • Other donations £115,000.
Horatio's Garden has James Alexander Sinclair (Glasgow) and Joe Swift (Stoke Mandeville) hospital gardens planned to add to Cleve West's Winchester garden.
NGS chief executive George Plumptre said: "With the assistance of garden owners, the hundreds of volunteers who help organise garden openings and as a consequence of the generosity of those who visit the gardens which open on our behalf, we have been able to donate a record amount to the nursing and caring charities that the National Gardens Scheme is proud to support."
"This year we have made a significant addition to our donations with the addition of a category promoting the links between Gardens and Health. Every year we will now make a donation to a charity whose work is focused on this vital area of public health, and our first beneficiary is Horatio’s Garden. This charity, named after Horatio Chapple, creates gardens for spinal injuries units at hospitals around the country and our funding will help create a garden at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.
"We are also delighted to welcome MS Society as our new guest charity for the first of two years. Recommendations for our guest charities are made by our volunteers and MS Society was a very popular nomination, looking after people with a disease that many in the NGS want us to support. M S Society takes over as guest charity from Parkinson’s UK whose partnership with the NGS has been such a success that the Trustees have retained the charity as a beneficiary this year."

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