Sally Bate and Jill Plater awarded Volunteer of the Year 2018

The Gilly Drummond Volunteer of the Year 2018 was awarded jointly to Sally Bate of Norfolk Gardens Trust and Jill Plater of Essex Gardens Trust at the Gardens Trust AGM on Saturday 1 September 2018. Also nominated were Jane Patton of Hereford & Worcester and Susan Paul of Suffolk Gardens Trusts. All four volunteers nominated by their county gardens trust colleagues are highly commended for their countless hours of volunteering, supporting garden conservation, planning, garden history research, publications and events.

The 2018 judges, Dr Patrick Eyres, Maureen Nolan and Steffie Shields, remarked that the calibre of CGT volunteers is reflected by every single nominee and offer their warmest congratulations. Steffie Shields MBE, Chair of Judges, comments: “Normally, there is one overall winner of this award. Considering the unprecedented circumstances these last three years, with the Humphry Repton Bicentenary coming so soon after the 2016 Capability Brown Tercentenary Festival and resulting in an extraordinary extra workload, all three judges were unable to differentiate between two outstanding, hard-working nominees.  Both are considered equal contenders to share this year’s award, both deserving in the light of their long and loyal service to their local county gardens trust, and of equal distinction as exemplary volunteers particularly in the fields of research and publishing.”

Sally Bate (above, on the right) has been a member of Norfolk Gardens Trust (NGT) since around 2000, and a committee member since 2013. She has set up and run the research group of NGT volunteers and organised field trips. She has been co-ordinator and editor of two first-class, much-admired publications ‘’Capability’ Brown in Norfolk’ (2016) and ‘Humphry Repton in Norfolk’ (2018), tracking down and negotiating copyright permissions for images of Brown and Repton sites in Norfolk, as well as raising grant aid towards publication costs. She has organised and led Repton study days and tours, actively promoted the work of The Gardens Trust and NGT on historic parks and gardens on social media, on BBC Radio 4 ‘Open Country’, at garden events and local shows, and given talks on Brown and Repton to historical groups and garden societies. She has shown tireless dedication both locally for the NGT and nationally for the Gardens Trust.

Jill Plater (above, on the left), a founder member of Essex Gardens Trust (EGT) since 1996, is a Volunteer Trustee & Garden History Research Team Leader. She played a major role in EGT’s garden history research team from the start resulting in the production of detailed Inventories of gardens and designed landscapes inEssex. These have been completed to date for Uttlesford, Braintree, Epping Forest, Maldon and Chelmsford.  In addition, she has spent two years almost single-handedly researching and compiling EGT’s current inventory for the borough of Brentwood.  EGT now has a significant compilation of first rate archive material filed and indexed.  Copies of the completed Inventories are lodged with the all relevant council planning teams. Over many years, her administrative expertise as informal ‘Board Secretary’, ensured the smooth running of meetings and minutes recording, and been assiduous in the regular circulation of both The Gardens Trust and EGT information to the Board and general membership.

Under Jill’s direction, EGT’s Research team has produced several books and publications: The Living Landscape: Animals in Parks & Gardens of Essex (2010), Lancelot Brown and his Essex Clients, and the highly successful volume A Gazetteer of Sites in Essex Associated with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-1783 (2015). In addition to research, Jill was responsible for final editing, design, liaison with the printer, and distribution.  Jill then took on the revision and updating of EGT’s Repton in Essex: A Gazetteer of Sites in Essex associated with Humphry Repton, first published in 2000.  With valuable but limited support from others, her Repton in Essex (due late 2018) incorporates recent new discoveries about his work at number of sites. She retires later this year after a remarkable contribution to EGT’s Research and Governance but pledges to continue to assist future researchers.

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith