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Persephone scoops a top prize at the UK IT Industry Awards 2023

Plant Heritage is the UK IT award winner for Charity (Third Sector) Project of the Year for the innovative plant recording software, Persephone, which holds vital information about any plant, in any garden, anywhere.

Penny Ross, Persephone Project Manager and Vicki Cooke, Plant Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage, collected the award at the major event in London on Wednesday 8th November. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of IT’, the prestigious event celebrates the top achievements in the world of IT and technology.

UK IT Award winner 2023
Ellie Taylor (Host) with Vicki Cooke (Plant Conservation Manager) and Penny Ross (Persephone Project Manager) from Plant Heritage – UK IT Award Winners of Charity (Third Sector) Project of the Year. Credit: The Chartered Institute for IT / UK IT Industry Awards 2023

The UK IT Award Charity (Third Sector) Project of the Year prize is given to the ‘most outstanding project in the charitable sector…if it uses IT to benefit the organisation or its clients’, with Plant Heritage going up against many much bigger organisations. The judges commended Plant Heritage for demonstrating what can be achieved on a modest budget by a strong team of volunteers and staff working together for the common good.

Persephone 2.0, launched in March 2022, builds on nine years’ experience of using Persephone, which was originally written by then postgraduate computer science student Toby Ross, working on a shoestring budget. Initially designed to record key data about the National Plant Collections, the online database has now grown to contain information about any plant, in any garden, anywhere.

Penny and David Ross, Plant Heritage’s Persephone volunteer development team explain: “Plant Heritage is hugely excited to receive this prestigious award from the British Computer Society. The award recognises the enormous effort of our volunteers and staff who have worked so hard to make Persephone a success, and the wonderful work done by our National Collection Holders who have recorded a wealth of plant information on the site. This is a real coup for such a small horticultural charity, and we hope that our award win will help bring plant conservation, and the vital work that Plant Heritage does, to the fore.”

“Thanks also to NXT Digital Solutions who have made Persephone 2.0 ‘look and feel beautiful’ and the trustees of Plant Heritage and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for generously supporting this project.”

Persephone is now available to all. Large/open gardens can take out a subscription. Plant Heritage members can record up to 500 plants in their private garden with Membership Plus.

Plant Heritage is a leading horticultural conservation charity that champions and conserves garden plants to ensure they remain in cultivation and don’t become lost from our gardens. The National Plant Collections – of which there are now over 700 – are a vital resource the heart of the charity and keep thousands of different plant groups alive which might be threatened by climate change, emerging pests and diseases or changing trends.

As a small charity Plant Heritage relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers to ensure their vital plant conservation work is possible. To find out more, visit www.plantheritage.org.uk

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