Trustees’ biographies

Sue Beardsmore, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Sue Beardsmore became Chair of Birmingham Botanical Gardens in April 2022. She previously worked for BBC television as a senior Broadcast Journalist for more than 25 years on daily news as a reporter and as one of the main presenters of Midlands Today.

She is now a freelance media consultant, trainer and facilitator. She’s worked with and for a number of community organisations in the West Midlands – concerned with health, education and the arts, and is a former Chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Midlands and East Committee.

James Brown
James Brown is an expert in building and surveying, having served for 17 years in the construction industry. A lifelong resident of Birmingham, James is hugely proud of our city and its evolution and he sees the Botanical Gardens as such an important part of our heritage. A lover of nature and wildlife, he strongly believes that gardens and nature, in general, bring so much pleasure to people and is the best antidote to the fast-pace and pressure of living in today’s digital world. James’s skills and advice will be hugely helpful in developing our ongoing project to restore our listed buildings here at the Gardens.

Caroline Clutton-Brock
Over 30 years’ experience in sales and marketing in the retail and cosmetics industry.  Previous National Account Manager at Yves Saint Laurent Beaute.  Expertise in event management and customer relations management. Chair of Friends, Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  Previous Non-executive Director Trading Company, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Chair of Enterprises, Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Rob Macpherson
Marketing, communications and brand strategy expert, Rob has run the Impakt consultancy, a sister company of web designers Substrakt, since 2019. He formerly led marketing, communications and fundraising for subsidised and commercial touring at the Birmingham Hippodrome and led an extensive community programme. Recent arts, education and charity clients include The Royal Court; Leicester Haymarket; CORE Education Trust; Dance Woking, and Birmingham Ormiston Academy.

Pamela Smith
Pam is a horticulturalist with over 35 years’ experience in public parks, botanic and historic gardens and is a former Director of Winterbourne, Vice Chair of PlantNetwork and CABE Space scholar. She is the National Trust’s senior advisor on gardens, parklands, horticulture and garden history. Her research interests include history of natural history education in public parks and urban botanical heritage.

Fiona Taylor
Chief executive officer of Garden Organic, a charity that brings together thousands of people who believe organic growing is essential for a healthy and sustainable world. Her background is in communications and campaigning, in particular, championing the UN Sustainable Development Goals covering issues such as fuel poverty, urban greening, deforestation and conservation.

Diana Wardle
Diana is a chartered accountant with many years’ experience of running the finance departments of various companies in the private and voluntary sector. Her role at the Gardens is  Company Secretary.

Nigel Bland, Chair of Finance
Nigel qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the mid 1980’s after gaining his degree at Birmingham University, . After spending a time within the Accounting Profession, he acted as a Finance Director of a Black Country based Financial Services organisation for 20 years. Subsequently he has held senior Finance positions with two Birmingham based Charities.

Rita McLean
Rita is an independent museums and heritage consultant who has worked across the UK heritage and cultural sectors in strategic, advisory and operational roles. She was Director of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG) from 2004 until 2012 and prior to this, Head of BMAG’s historic house museums – her work encompassed delivery of major capital development projects, also audience diversity initiatives. Current consultancy work includes assignments for the National Lottery Heritage Fund as a project consultant and expert adviser. Rita is a member of the National Trust’s Collections and Interpretation Advisory Group and Birmingham Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee.