RHS Awards the Highest Honours in Horticulture

The highest honours in horticulture, the Victoria Medal of Honour and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour has been awarded to six worthy recipients by the Royal Horticultural Society.

At a special award ceremony held at Lindley Hall, London on Tuesday 26 March 2024, Chris Lane and Neil Lucas received the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) and Rosie Atkins, Charles Dowding, Jan Pennings and Chipper Wichman received the RHS Elizabeth Medal of Honour (EMH).
The Victoria Medal of Honour is awarded to British horticulturalists and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour is awarded to non-horticulturalists who have made an outstanding contribution to horticulture and gardening. They are awarded as part of the RHS People Awards that recognise and celebrate the achievements and hard work of individuals in horticulture through the award of eight special honours.
Chris Lane and Neil Lucas received the award of the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour. Chris Lane is a renowned plantsman and nurseryman and is celebrated for his practical skills and knowledge of woody plants, sharing his experience through formal training, his books and holding five national plant collections.  Neil Lucas is an exceptional champion of ornamental grasses both as a designer and nurseryman. He is an author, exhibitor and judge and has developed Knoll Garden’s charitable foundation to increase our understanding of naturalistic planting and garden wildlife.
Rosie Atkins, Charles Dowding, Jan Pennings and Chipper Wichman received the RHS Elizabeth Medal of Honour. Rosie Atkins is an outstanding ambassador for horticulture, she launched the ground-breaking Gardens Illustrated magazine and became Director of Chelsea Physic Garden transforming their public engagement. She is a RHS committee member, RHS Vice-President and member of several trusts. For over forty years Charles Dowding has researched and developed his techniques of ‘no-dig’ pioneering the concept of improving soil quality organically whilst maintaining productivity and benefitting biodiversity. Charles continues to share his experience through lectures, courses, articles and several gardening books.
Jan Pennings has been unwavering in his pursuit of excellence in bringing his knowledge of daffodils and other bulbs to a worldwide audience. He is a tireless ambassador for the RHS and growers worldwide supporting plant breeders by taking up new cultivars of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and crocuses to bring new and improved plants to the gardening world. Chipper Wichman dedicated his career in botany and gardens with the National Tropical Botanical Garden as the organisation’s president and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, the National Tropical Botanical Garden has become a recognised global leader in discovery, scientific research, conservation and education focused on rare and endangered plant species.
At any one time only 63 horticulturists hold the VMH and 70 non-horticulturists will hold the EMH to mark the length of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II’s respective reigns.
The RHS People Awards are held annually and are open to everyone to make a nomination. This year’s nominations will open in June 2024. All nominations are assessed by experienced horticulturists from across the industry. The strongest applications are then assessed by the RHS Horticulture Board and the RHS Council.
Keith Weed, RHS President, said: “This year’s recipients of the Victoria Medal of Honour and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour – the highest honours in horticulture, have made an immeasurable contribution to horticulture and have inspired designers, growers and gardeners of all levels of experience. Their passion and enthusiasm shines through in every avenue of horticultural activity they undertake, and our gardening knowledge has been greatly enriched by their achievements.”

For more information from RHS please contact [email protected]

Notes to editors

2024 Medal Recipients:
Associate of Honour – awarded to those who have rendered distinguished service to the practice of horticulture during the course of their working career. It is an award held for life.
The 2024 Associate of Honour was awarded to Tony Hall, Kim Hurst, John Lanyon and Jaimie Parsons.
Veitch Memorial Medal – awarded to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of science and practice of horticulture. It is an award held for life. The 2024 Veitch Memorial Medal was awarded to Monica Bendek, Tim Briercliffe, Mike Calnan and Mr and Mrs Stephenson Clarke.
Reginald Cory Memorial Cup – awarded to those who encourage the production of new hybrids of garden origin and have introduced and made available a new hybrid of merit. The cup is held for one year. The 2024 Reginald Cory Memorial Cup was awarded to Vance Hooper.
The Harlow Carr Medal – awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to horticulture in the North of England. It is an award held for life. The 2024 Harlow Carr Medal was awarded to John Gibbons.
Roy Lancaster Award – awarded to those under 35 who have achieved an exceptional contribution to the practice, science or promotion of horticulture. The 2024 Roy Lancaster Award was awarded to Josh Egan-Wyer.
Carew Pole Community Award – awarded to those that have made an outstanding contribution to a community gardening programme over a period of time that brings value to the wider community. The 2024 Carew Pole Community Award was awarded to Steve Catanach.
About the RHS
Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.
We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.
Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.
Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings. For more information visit  RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.