Chair of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Body: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: Board meetings will be held mainly at Kew, with some meetings each year at Wakehurst
Skills required: Business / Commercial
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The role is unremunerated, but essential expenses comprising travel, accommodation, if required, and subsistence are payable based on Kew’s expenses arrangements, which are set out in Kew’s Guidance on Financial Policy and Practice.
Time Requirements: Up to four days per month, which will include attending five Board meetings per year, relevant Committee meetings, events and associated activities.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Dame Amelia Fawcett DBE CVO has been appointed as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Date: 18/06/2019

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    20/03/2019 at 17:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement

    18/06/2019 at 12:00


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Chair provides leadership and strategic vision for the Board, sets the overall strategic operational direction of RBG Kew, ensures good governance and, with the Board, holds the executive to account.

The Chair will promote a positive and constructive relationship with everyone who works with Kew, including the science community, local communities, potential supporters and a wide range of interest groups as well as Other Government Departments, regulators and local government.

The Chair has the following responsibilities:

• responsibility to Ministers for the overall leadership, direction and effectiveness of RBG Kew, in line with strategies and plans agreed with Defra as appropriate;

• approving the strategic direction, budgets and major activities of RBG Kew, and ensuring its continued financial health;

• representing RBG Kew to Ministers, discussing issues with them as appropriate, ensuring that the other Board Members are informed of such discussions and that any actions are communicated throughout Kew;

• acting as an ambassador and advocate for RBG Kew with major stakeholders including RBG Kew’s Patron HRH Prince Charles, international dignitaries and major philanthropists;

• building and maintaining an effective, cohesive and focussed Board, including ensuring suitable induction and annual assessment of members and Committees;

• ensuring that the Board is run in line with the Government Code of Good Practice for Corporate Governance, RGB Kew’s Framework Document and Charity Commission guidance on Trustee Boards;

• providing leadership for a refreshed corporate strategy and major fundraising campaign which will centre around renewing RBG Kew’s science estate in order to maximise RBG Kew’s contribution to global challenges;

• leading the Board in its relationship with the Executive, and in particular the Director; this will involve providing support and also constructive challenge where necessary in order to ensure accountability by management;

• supporting the delivery of the Defra Group’s objectives while respecting RBG Kew’s independence; this includes engaging with Defra’s Executive Committee where a strategic decision impacts on RBG Kew’s formal duties and responsibilities;

• supporting RBG Kew’s Executive Board in working collaboratively with other parts of the Defra group and across government, building relationships with other Boards and helping to remove barriers to joint working;

• promoting a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion on the Board as well as more widely in RBG Kew.

The successful candidate must abide by the Nolan principles of public service

Person Specification

You should demonstrate all of the following essential criteria:
1. A genuine interest in and appreciation of RBG Kew’s unique contribution to the fields of science, horticulture and heritage.

2. Clear strategic and creative thinker with the ability to support and challenge others in a constructive manner, including the Director and his senior team.

3. An outstanding senior leader, ideally with a track record in ensuring overall financial health and sound financial governance in a significant business, commercial, charitable or public-sector organisation.

4. An excellent ambassador and communicator with the ability to persuade senior stakeholders to support an organisation’s mission including Ministers, Trustees, employees and philanthropists.

Additional Information

In 1759, Princess Augusta, Princess of Wales and the mother of George III, installed a small nine-acre garden at Kew. 260 years later, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous centre for botanical and mycological knowledge with a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Kew Gardens and over 500 acres of beautiful ornamental gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve on the High Weald of West Sussex at Wakehurst.

• RBG Kew’s science collections are globally-significant with 8.5m items in its Herbarium and fungarium and through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. RBG Kew’s plant DNA represents c. 95% of known flowering plant genera.

• RBG Kew’s c. 28,000 taxa of living specimens represent c. 75% of plant families worldwide.

• RBG Kew employs 1,000 staff (including nearly 350 scientists) and 800 volunteers.

• RBG Kew has attracted 110,000 Members at Kew Gardens and at Wakehurst.

• RBG Kew has global reach and collaborates with c.400 organisations in c.110 countries.

• RBG Kew is educating the next generation; each year RBG Kew hosts 100,000 school children, trains c.100 postgraduate students (MSc and PhD) and offers c.70 horticultural training positions.

Under the National Heritage Act 1983, RBG Kew became an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB) and a corporate body with exempt charitable status operating under a Board of Trustees and a Director. DEFRA is RBG Kew’s sponsor body and principal regulator. Eleven Trustees are appointed by the Secretary of State and one by HM the Queen.

RBG Kew’s functions and powers are derived from the National Heritage Act and as an executive NDPB it operates at arm’s length from DEFRA. Trustees are accountable through Ministers to Parliament for the public money that they spend. DEFRA’s role is one of stewardship, enabling the Secretary of State to account properly to Parliament for RBG Kew’s efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring that RBG Kew is properly managed and that its grant-in-aid is used appropriately and effectively. Each year RBG Kew’s Annual Report and Accounts is laid before Parliament.

How to Apply

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

• Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest, Conduct and Political Activity Questionnaire)
• Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Monitoring Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned to the following address by the closing date: 12:00 noon on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. Email to quoting reference APPT07-18.

If you have any questions about the appointments process please contact Andrew Morris, Public Appointments Team on 020 8026 6562 or:

For an informal discussion about the role please contact RBG Kew Board Secretary, Balwinder Allen, at

1_Kew Chair candidate pack AW2
2_Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest, Conduct and Political Activity)
3_Monitoring form 2 (Diversity)
4_Public Appointments Guidance notes
5_Public Appointments-Privacy Notice
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