The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA) would like to extend a sincere thank you and farewell to two of our longest serving staff members, Lesley Hammersley and Grady Brand who retired from the Authority in December 2020.

Grady Brand and Lesley Hammersley.

With an incredible 63 years’ service between them, BGPA Director Horticulture and Conservation Lesley and Senior Curator Grady have been an integral part of the Kings Park and Bold Park families.

After studying horticulture at TAFE, Grady started work as a trainee at Kings Park in 1978 working in all sections of the park. For the last 20 years he has been Senior Curator, responsible for more than 50 staff.

'There’s only one botanic garden curator’s job in WA', Grady said. 'I feel privileged to have been trusted to do the job for such a long time.'

Grady credits Professor Stephen Hopper, Kings Park Director/CEO 1992 to 2004, with instilling a sense of excellence which continues to this day. It was during this time that Kings Park won gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in 1997 and 2000.

Grady sees the introduction of the month-long September Kings Park Festival in 2007 as one of the most significant developments under his watch.

'Everything we do in the park is carefully considered, the cultural heritage and all the sensitivities of this special place', Grady said. 'We understand we are building a legacy for future generations.'

Lesley is a relative newcomer to Western Australia. In 2000 she was working as Manager, Horticulture and Land Management at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne in Victoria and was involved in the early planning and development of its celebrated Australian Garden.

'I have always been passionate about Western Australian plants and had been on several field trips to WA, including some with Luke Sweedman (BGPA’s Curator, WA Seed Technology Centre), collecting for the Australian Garden', Lesley said. 'My chance to move west came when I successfully applied for the job of Manager Biodiversity Conservation with BGPA, based at Bold Park.'

Lesley was in charge of building the Western Australian Ecology Centre at Bold Park and constructing the Reabold Hill boardwalk and summit lookout. She later moved to Kings Park and was appointed a director in 2010.

Lesley has been involved in scores of capital works projects, with the building of the State Reception Centre for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011 perhaps the most challenging.

Other highlights are the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Western Australian Botanic Garden which included the Botanic Terraces and the new entry statement, the Fraser Avenue Ceremonial Walk, Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park, the Place of Reflection, the new works depot, volunteer hub Wanju Marr as well as countless toilet upgrades and hundreds of metres of paths.

We extend a sincere thank you and farewell to Lesley and Grady.

You can read the whole story and an interview with Lesley and Grady by Chris Olney in the Friends of Kings Park' People and Plants magazine.

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