Catherine Penny awarded MBE for services to plant conservation

2nd January, 2024

National Plant Collection Holder and Plant Heritage Trustee Catherine Penny awarded MBE for services to plant conservation

Catherine Penny, National Plant Collection Holder of historic Pemberton roses, Trustee of Plant Heritage and Chair of the Plant Heritage North West Group, has been awarded an MBE in The New Year Honours List 2024.

She will receive an MBE from King Charles III for her outstanding services to plant conservation and the community in North Preston, Lancashire. Catherine joined the committee of Plant Heritage’s North West group in 2008 and became Chair two years later. Her stunning National Plant Collection of historic Pemberton roses – held within the private gardens at Dutton Hall – was accredited in 2016 and is open to the public by appointment. Her MBE is also given in recognition of her notable community work supporting young and vulnerable people and other charities in Lancashire.

Catherine Penny MBE, National Plant Collection Holder and Trustee of Plant Heritage, says: “It is a huge honour that my plant conservation and community work has been recognised with an MBE. Throughout my career I have had a lot of support and encouragement from others, for which I am truly grateful, and I am humbled to be the one who receives such a prestigious accolade.”

“So many plants are sadly at risk, whether from climate change, disease or changing trends. I am passionate about conserving endangered, interesting and valuable plants for future generations to enjoy, so I hope this award will encourage others to do their bit and get involved in plant conservation too.”

Cecilia Bufton, Chairman of Plant Heritage, adds: “Catherine has been a valued Plant Heritage member, passionate National Plant Collection Holder and dedicated Trustee for many years, so to see her lifework recognised with an MBE is very special. We are incredibly proud to see Catherine rewarded in this way.”

The New Year Honours Lists mark the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the UK every year. Catherine Penny will collect her MBE in 2024. Leaders of other horticultural organisations which hold National Plant Collections – including the Yorkshire Arboretum and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew – join Catherine on this year’s honours list.

Plant Heritage is a leading horticultural conservation charity that champions and conserves garden plants to ensure they remain in cultivation and don’t become lost from our gardens. The National Plant Collections – of which there are now over 700 – are a vital resource the heart of the charity and keep thousands of different plant groups alive which might be threatened by climate change, emerging pests and diseases or changing trends.

As a small charity Plant Heritage relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers to ensure their vital plant conservation work is possible. To find out more, visit


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