University of Reading: Dedicated gardening volunteer receives long-awaited award

A volunteer who has spent two decades helping maintain a University of Reading public garden come rain or shine has been celebrated with an award.

Monica Jobson, now in her 80s, volunteers in the University’s Harris Garden. She was presented with the Distinguished Volunteer Award in recognition of the lasting impact she has had on the gardens, which are frequently visited by staff, students and the wider community.

Monica was presented with the award on 20 January, almost three years after her nomination. She was unable to attend the initial presentation at the House of Lords in 2019, and an alternative event the following year had to be cancelled when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Her nomination praised her dedication to volunteering, turning up whatever the weather to tend to the Long Border – the largest flower border in the gardens – as well as pruning, weeding, and managing flower displays.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, said: “The work of all the volunteers at the University is hugely appreciated and I was delighted to present this award to Monica. We would not be able to maintain these gardens to such a high standard without her and her fellow volunteers.”

“Monica’s contribution and dedication has been second to none – she has truly helped to keep the Harris Garden a haven for both wildlife and visitors.”

The Distinguished Volunteer Award is presented by the University to recognise outstanding personal contributions that volunteers make to the University community.

Fellow volunteers wrote the heartfelt nomination in 2019, attesting to Monica’s helpful and kind nature. She was described as ‘always smiling, willing to offer advice to our visitors, and a valuable advocate of the volunteer scheme in the Harris Garden’.

They noted that children often gather to watch her at work and that she serves as a huge inspiration to the next generation of aspiring gardeners.

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