Volunteer of the Year Award 2021 won by Marcus Batty

Congratulations to Marcus Batty of Sussex Gardens Trust who has been named as the Gilly Drummond Volunteer of the Year at the Gardens Trust AGM. Volunteers are at the heart of what we do, and this award recognises their invaluable work for County Gardens Trusts (CGTs) around the country. The judges congratulated all six volunteers who were nominated for the award.

Marcus Batty faced stiff competition from the other nominees but was unanimously recommended as the winner by judges Jenifer White (Chair), Kate Harwood and Maureen Nolan. The other volunteers who were nominated for the award were: Jane Bradney of Gloucestershire GT, Gwen Miles of Buckinghamshire GT, Sarah Rutherford of the Gardens Trust, Peter Woodrow of Norfolk GT and Thomas Yellowley of Northumbria GT.

Photo of Marcus Batty, winner of the 2021 Volunteer of the Year award
Marcus Batty, winner of the 2021 Volunteer of the Year award

Volunteer of the Year Marcus Batty

In their nomination, Sussex Gardens Trust (SGT) explained how Marcus had developed the trust and built capacity amongst members. He has made an enormous contribution over the past decade, as Director, Trustee and Council member and recent Chairman. Marcus helped develop a strategy for the SGT through a series of workshops, and guided them through constitutional and organisational changes. He also supported their conservation group, contributed to education as a conference speaker, and conducted independent research. His impact on Communications as a frequent contributor to SGT publications was noted, and particularly his ‘original and substantive contribution of a regular series of Corona Bulletins for the edification, education and amusement of SGT members’.

The judging panel said:

‘As in previous years, the 2021 nominations for Volunteer of the Year reflected the impressive work of all volunteers, their commitment to the CGTs and to garden history, and the wide range of work and activities undertaken. All are congratulated. They are all clearly highly valued by their trusts and each one deserves credit for their contributions. However there was one that stood out: Marcus Batty of Sussex Gardens Trust.

Marcus has played an important and vital role in the governance of the trust and developing its strategy over the past 10 years. In addition he has contributed to the trust’s conservation and education work, and to organising events. Marcus’s monthly series of engaging and beautifully presented Corona bulletins to keep in touch with members during lockdowns illustrates his skills and his commitment to Sussex Gardens Trust and its members.’

Lockdown challenges

The Volunteer of the Year nominations prompted discussions about how the pandemic lockdowns have been challenging for us all. Not least, they have meant that we were unable to properly celebrate last year’s Volunteer of the Year 2020 Jane Patton. The judges congratulated all those CGTs who have adapted to the situation and worked to develop online networking, events, and training. The Corona bulletins that Marcus Batty created for Sussex Gardens Trust are an example of such an innovative response.

Marcus Batty said:

‘Early last year, we were wondering how best to keep communicating with our members and, at the same time, lift the spirits during lockdown, a difficult period in all our lives. I was delighted that the idea of the ‘Coronavirus bulletin’ took off and proved so popular’.

Click below to read samples of the bulletins:

Corona Bulletin 1 April 2020
Corona Bulletin 8 September 2020
Corona Bulletin 11 December 2020
Corona Bulletin 14 March 2021

Volunteering for your gardens trust

There are volunteering opportunities of all kinds within your local CGT, whether you have an occasional few hours to spare or can make a more substantial regular commitment. They need people with all sorts of skills – you don’t have to be an experienced garden historian or researcher to be able to help protect our historic gardens and landscapes. Those who can help with communications, administration, event organisation, publications or social media are needed just as much as those who want to dive into the archives or get hands on with garden conservation.

Get in touch with your local CGT to find out how you could help.

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