So here’s a new thing in my life: I’ve just become President of The Conservation Volunteers (Press Release attached).

Not completely new, mind you. I’ve been a Vice President for many years (when it was called The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers!), and have always been keen to support its local projects and its amazing Annual Awards Scheme.

When I was Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, we did a huge amount of work on the relationship between better health (both physical and mental) and direct contact with the natural world. We put together a bibliography of all the major research programmes demonstrating the positive impacts that working in and just walking in the environment can have on people’s health.

And some of the most interesting research came from TCV’s well-established Green Gym project – where GPs “prescribe” participation in local conservation schemes as an alternative to prescribing just another dose of drugs.

It’s so obvious! Yet persuading the medical establishment that this ought to become the norm rather than the practise of a number of exceptional GPs, has proved to be a massive task.

So that’s one of the things that I’ll be keen to get more involved in with my new role. TCV has been through some huge changes over the last few years, and has had to comprehensively rethink its business model. It seems to me it’s now very well set for the next phase in this organisation’s amazing history – and I’m very proud to be playing a small part in that.


For immediate release
4th April 2014


The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) are delighted to announce that Jonathon Porritt, the leading sustainability expert, is to take over the Presidency in April 2014 from The Lord Norrie.

Jonathon is currently a Vice President of TCV, and has supported the organisation in many roles over time. The Lord Norrie has been President since 1987, and is retiring.

Jonathon Porritt is the co-founder of Forum for the Future, and is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, partnering some of the world’s leading companies.

Jonathon has previously spent nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission. In February 2012, Jonathon was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012.

Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.

TCV have been working with individuals and communities for 55 years (formerly as BTCV), using their expertise to train volunteers in how to transform their local outdoor green places. TCV are collecting a growing body of evidence on the positive effect that outdoor volunteering has on people’s health, wellbeing and prospects. TCV is passionate about the positive impacts of improving green spaces and are looking forward to working with Jonathon to share their passion with a wider audience.

Commentating on the appointment, TVC Chairman, Rita Clifton, Chairman, said:

“We are absolutely delighted and proud that Jonathon has agreed to take up the role as President of TCV at such an important time for us. Jonathon has been a great supporter of TCV for many years, and his interests in the practical application and broader health and societal effects of sustainability are very much at one with our developing agenda.

“There has never been a more important time for TCV to work with people across the social and age spectrum to transform their health, prospects and outdoor places for the long term. TCV’s work provides a truly effective way of engaging communities in their own health and well-being, and we are thrilled that Jonathon will be involved as our new President.

“We are very grateful to The Lord Norrie for his many years of committed service at the highest level and very generous support for TCV, and we very much look forward to him staying involved with us in the future.”

Commenting on his appointment, TCV President, Jonathon Porritt, said:

“I am delighted to be taking up the role of President of TCV. I have long been an admirer of their very applied approach to delivering sustainability on the ground. I’m particulary interested in the contribution TCV makes to promoting better health for individuals and heightened wellbeing for communities.

Its Green Gym initiative has been a leader in this space for a long time, and I know that both Rita Clifton and Julie Hopes (CEO) share my enthusiasm for building on this impressive track record.”



Notes to Editors

1. The Conservation Volunteers is one of the largest, most dynamic and effective volunteering organisations in the UK. TCV works together with people and communities to transform their health, prospects and outdoor places for the long term. Through a network of 2,000 community groups, volunteers head out in all weathers to take part in a wide range of activities including planting trees and hedgerows, clearing footpaths and building steps and styles.

2. The Conservation Volunteers grew out of the Conservation Corps founded in 1959. Its first project was held at Box Hill where 42 volunteers including TV presenter David Bellamy cleared dogwood to encourage distinctive chalkland flora. In 1970 the Conservation Corps began operating under the new name of British Trust of Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) and HRH Duke of Edinburgh became Patron.

3. In 2006 BTCV’s new head office in Doncaster was opened by Ed Miliband, Minister for the Third Sector and wins awards for its environmentally sustainable design. In 2008 BTCV annual Spring into Action campaign involved 20,000 volunteers at 770 sites across the UK. BTCV became The Conservation Volunteers on 1st May 2012.

4. The Conservation Volunteers run a series of Green Gyms® around the country where experienced leaders guide people through practical outdoor projects improving their health and stamina whilst benefiting local green spaces. TCV is also a leading provider of recruitment and job preparation training supporting over 50,000 people to improve their lives and find a new direction.

For more information contact Francesca Dobson on 020 3463 0815 or email