Plant Heritage Conservation Manager is first person to be awarded the John Spedan Lewis Medal by the Linnean Society

Mercy Morris, Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage, became the first person to be awarded the John Spedan Lewis Medal by the Linnean Society of London, at a prestigious ceremony at Burlington House on on 22 May 2015.

Mercy, who joined Plant Heritage in 2007, was chosen to be the first recipient of this newly established medal for her significant and innovative contribution to conservation in the field of horticulture. 

Speaking about receiving this prestigious honour, Mercy said:

“It is somewhere between winning the lottery and being awarded an Oscar; I am so pleased and honoured to be recognised in this way."

Mercy came to horticulture as a second career, studying part-time in order to build up qualifications over a few years. Her first role was in garden retail working for two garden centres as a Marketing Assistant and then Deputy Manager. She then moved to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Wakehurst Place, where she worked in the Water Gardens and then the Southern Hemisphere Garden. During this time she was able to join a seed collecting trip to New Zealand with a Kew team. She joined Plant Heritage (then NCCPG) in 2007 as Plant Conservation Officer, a role she held until 2014. During this time she instigated the Threatened Plants Project and the Plant Guardian scheme. In 2014 she opted to work part-time as Conservation Manager to allow her to study an MSc in Ethnobotany at the University of Kent. 

John Spedan Lewis was the founder of the John Lewis Partnership: he was a skilled business man, but considered himself first and foremost a naturalist. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London from 1933 until his death in 1963. The following year the John Spedan Lewis Foundation was established to support projects closely aligned to Spedan’s personal interests in the field of natural history.

The Trustees of the John Spedan Lewis Foundation decided to commission a medal to mark the 50th anniversary of the Foundation. The medal will be awarded annually at the Anniversary Meeting of the Linnean Society of London to an individual who is making a significant and innovative contribution to conservation, particularly in the fields of either ornithology, entomology or horticulture in the United Kingdom.
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