A passion for plants? Could this be a role for you?

child watering plants from large can

A South London institution with a long and fascinating history is looking for someone to lead it into a new era.

The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) in Tulse Hill, now a registered charity, was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume.

old photographic portrait of a man
Portrait of Allan Octavian Hume at the SLBI

He was both a member of the colonial Imperial Civil Service in India, witnessing the 1857 Indian Rebellion, and, in 1885, a founding member of the Indian National Congress which later became the main voice in the campaign for independence.

Then better known for his study of birds rather than plants, he lived in Upper Norwood for the last years of his life when he also established SLBI “to promote the study of plants to the people of South London”.

Now in its 111th year, the SLBI aims to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to share a passion for plants and the environment.

The institute runs a busy programme of courses, workshops, walks, open days and school visits, and is still based in the original house with its historic herbarium, botanic library and enchanting garden.

The garden is currently open to the public every Thursday from 11am to 4pm and at other times by appointment.

The new chair of trustees for the SLBI will be leading a new drive to introduce Allan Octavian Hume’s passion for plants to as many people as possible – “both for their own benefit and that of the planet”.

exterior of large traditional house
SLBI headquarters in Tulse Hill

“Our mission is to be somewhere that people of all ages and backgrounds can develop and share a passion for plants together with understanding how plants help to sustain human life – Discovering plants, enriching lives, sustaining the future,” the SLBI says.

Its new business plan is designed to embed its unique garden and resources in an inner-city setting more firmly in both local and scientific communities.

At the same time, it plans to use digital technology to increase its geographical reach.

The plan has four main aims:

  • Retain SLBI’s current audiences and broaden them in line with local demographics
  • Make SLBI and its collections more accessible
  • Maintain existing and build new partnerships locally, regionally and nationally
  • Make the SLBI more financially resilient and sustainable.

The new chair, during an initial three-year term of office will lead and provide direction to SLBI trustees and staff.

They will not need to be a plant specialist, but will have an interest in plants, an enthusiasm for sharing that with people of all ages and backgrounds and a commitment to tackling the climate crisis.

Full details of the chair post [PDF download]

To apply, send a CV and a covering letter (maximum of two pages) to info@slbi.org.uk by 15 September 2021. This should include reasons why you are interested in the post and the names of two referees.

Existing trustees would be willing to have an informal discussion before any application. Please contact info@slbi.org.uk.

What's your opinion?