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RBG Kew announces appointment of Lorraine Lecourtois as Interim Director of Wakehurst

Lorraine Lecourtois, currently Head of Public Programmes at Wakehurst, has been appointed Interim Director, following Ed Ikin’s decision to depart Wakehurst to take on a new role as Chief Executive of the Ernest Cook Trust.

Richard Barley, RBG Kew’s Director of Gardens, said: “Lorraine brings considerable experience to this role, including six years on the Wakehurst Leadership Team, and is well-respected for her drive and passion to deliver Kew’s mission. We believe Wakehurst is in very capable hands as we develop the recruitment process for a permanent Director.”

Lorraine Lecourtois, Zoe Salt © RBG Kew
Lorraine Lecourtois, Zoe Salt © RBG Kew

Lorraine joined the Wakehurst Leadership Team in 2017 charged with the development and delivery of innovative experiences designed to connect people with the natural world. Her career spans theatre production and stage management for companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe and Bolton Octagon, alongside management of large-scale landscape projects. Notable career highlights include the transformation of a coal mining spoil tip into a public-access country park at Betteshanger Park where she oversaw the construction of a new Visitor Centre and Museum funded by the Heritage Lottery. At Lancashire Wildlife Trust, she contributed to the development of the RIBA Stirling Prize-nominated Brockholes Nature Reserve playing a key role in brand development, visitor experience, and events programming for the regional destination.

In 2021, Lorraine was appointed as Wakehurst’s Nature Unlocked Research Lead for Nature Connectedness, undertaking extensive research into the impact of biodiversity on behavioural changes, in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London. She is committed to establishing RBG Kew as the world leader for education and engagement in nature through designing and executing inspirational experiences and exhibitions to drive public engagement.

The growth of Glow Wild

As Head of Public Programmes, she led the growth of Glow Wild into one of the South East’s most popular winter experiences, winning a Beautiful South Tourism Award, and establishing it as Wakehurst’s most commercially successful event. Her production expertise was demonstrated in the development of ‘Planet Wakehurst’, the UK’s largest outdoor art installation, as Wakehurst’s Mansion underwent extensive roof works, and has driven significant growth in Wakehurst programming, from successful brand partnerships for Easter and October half-term to the 10-week summer arts programme – now entering its fourth year.

Lorraine Lecourtois said: “Over the last few years, we have developed a strong masterplan for Wakehurst to transform it from a local visitor attraction to a global science exemplar, renowned for its botanic excellence and cultural innovation. Through developments such as the American Prairie, the growth of the public programme, and the new Conservation & Research Nursery we are already well on our way to delivering these great ambitions. In my position as Interim Director of Wakehurst, I will continue the momentum we have collectively built to deliver our key projects and champion the incredible work of our talented team at Wakehurst.”

Ed Ikin will depart on 6 December, allowing for a smooth transition between the two Directors. Subsequently, Lorraine will continue as Interim Director of Wakehurst until a permanent appointment is made.

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