Mrs Anne Kenrick MBE (1923 – 2020)
It is with sadness that we record the passing in a care home of Mrs Anne Kenrick who has been a Vice President of the Association since 2012. In that year, and in memory of her late husband Hugh, she donated his entire charitable trust fund to benefit the work of NAEE. The Hugh Kenrick bursary scheme continues to enable teachers to get school classes outside of their immediate environment to visit specific West Midlands environmental education centres. To date nearly 6,000 children have benefitted from these funds. Bursaries are awarded to applicants who show that their visits will link to both the school curriculum and to the development of a wider environmental awareness across the school community.
During the Second World War Anne (affectionally known in NAEE circles as Mrs K) received horticultural training and then became Head Gardener at Winchester College before working for a London-based firm of landscape architects. With her considerable horticultural knowledge, she become both a Council member of the RHS and a judge for RHS Flower Shows. She was also associated with the National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens, now called Plant Heritage. Closer to her home in Edgbaston, Birmingham, she was invited to advise on the restoration of the 17th century gardens at Castle Bromwich Hall and became the first Chair of the Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust. Here she met Sue Fenoughty who was the Advisory Teacher for Environmental Education in Birmingham, a long standing NAEE committee member and former Editor of our Journal. Sue then ran a teachers’ course, followed by a living history project taking children back to the Gardens in Victorian times. Their friendship lasted nearly 30 years and Sue has explained that the inspiration for the Hugh Kenrick Scheme has roots much earlier in Anne’s experiences. NAEE will always be grateful for Sue for introducing Mrs K to the work of our Association.
In 1950 while visiting Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens in South Africa Anne encountered a wooden shack converted to a school room where local children were educated about the flora and fauna of this fertile area. This memory inspired her to establish a school room centre at Birmingham Botanic Gardens. She believed passionately that city-based children needed to be introduced to the joys of learning about, and caring for, our environmental heritage beyond the urban streets where many of their homes and schools were situated. When the Gardens educational base was threatened with closure, along with other environmental education centres maintained by Birmingham Council, she decided to use her knowledge of the RHS campaign for school gardening and donate her husband’s trust fund to NAEE.
Mrs K’s educational commitment and interest continued throughout her life. She became a governor of the seven schools in the Birmingham King Edward Foundation as well as the Queen’s Theological College. Despite failing sight she remained concerned that NAEE should be enabling young people to gain an understanding of the importance of the environmental issues that face us today. Instead of presents for her 90th birthday she asked friends and relatives to buy gardening materials that NAEE distributed to schools from the Martineau Gardens Centre. Thanks to the help of her son John she was able to read letters from children and reports from teachers after their Kenrick funded visits. Her appreciation of the joy and learning of the young was obvious. Only a few days before she died she was still enthusiastically wondering if schools would be able to learn about hydroponic fruit growing by visiting local garden centres! In 2015 she wrote for our journal that
“It is vitally important that we pass onto the next generations the responsibility to preserve and protect our environment and use the Earth’s natural resources in a sustainable manner.”
Her personal vision, as well as her benevolence that became the Hugh Kenrick Bursary Scheme, is now her legacy.
Chair of the NAEE Executive Committee with thanks to Sue Fenoughty