Professor Peter Waldron
Chairperson of The Papillon Project
We are all from different backgrounds and walks of life, but we all collectively, and positively, work together to enrich and develop The Papillon Project. We are all very friendly, approachable, incredibly dedicated and really value each other's areas of experience and expertise. We also enjoy laughing at each others jokes and funny stories from time to time!
Above: The Papillon Project's core team: Poppy, Matt, Graeme and Harriet.
The Papillon Project is made of four main groups that make our charitable work possible:
They have ultimate responsibility for The Papillon Project as a charity and are accountable to The Charity Commission.
These people work together, as a diverse and super positive team, to run The Papillon Project on a day-to-day basis. Other than the roles of Schools' Project Lead, Deputy Schools' Project Lead and Assistant Schools' Project Lead (our charity's core team), all members of this group are unpaid volunteers. This incredibly dedicated group of people conduct the charity's work or help to raise crucial funds so we can continue to make our charitable work possible.
We are incredibly lucky to have a great many wonderful volunteers who are extremely dedicated to supporting our charitable work. From our school volunteers to our events volunteers, The Papillon Project simply would not run without these extremely kind people. Our most experienced school volunteers are given the title 'Allotment Guru' and they continue to support a school allotment project that is local to them. Some of our volunteers are also 'Buddies' (supportive friends) of the charity.
The charity is incredibly fortunate to have some brilliant individuals to help us conduct and connect our charitable work with the wider Norfolk community.
Simon Waller: Water engineer and irrigation advisor
Jeremy Buxton & Tim More: Farming community liaisons
Sam Garland: Horticultural advisor (Head Gardener at the Bishop's Garden, Norwich)
Aranya: Permaculture advisor (author of Permaculture Design)
Dr Tom Fox: Woodwork and construction advisor
Prof Alan Davies: Master composter (professor emeritus of mathematics at University of Hertfordshire)
The Revd. Keith Rengert: Diocese of Norwich (Church of England) liaison
Peter has spent his career as an academic historian, specialising in the history of modern Russia. He grew up in north east England and was a student in London, as well as spending time studying and working in Finland and the then Soviet Union. He taught at the University of East Anglia for nearly 15 years, publishing widely on Russian history, and is now emeritus professor of history. As a counterweight to the world of books and archives, Peter has always had a strong attachment to the outdoors, enjoying hiking, running and cycling. The north Norfolk coast is a particular favourite while, further afield – and as a contrast to the East Anglian landscape – the Swiss Alps have always been a challenge. Committed to sustainability and to the importance of rounded and broad education, he is keen to offer support to the Papillon Project.
Diane started her career working in a bank and continued in the accounts’ offices of various companies, before starting her own business in administration. Having left school at 15 with no qualifications, she studied for a degree with the Open University before obtaining a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire. She regularly volunteered with various charities and became involved in The Royal Institution’s Masterclass Programme, subsequently working at The Ri and becoming Clothworker’s Fellow in Mathematics, responsible for the Mathematics programme and introducing Engineering and Computer Science Programmes. Diane is also the Manager of the English Schools’ Orchestra, a charity offering opportunities in orchestral playing for the very best young orchestral players aged 13 to 18 around the UK, and has been Treasurer for a Scout Group for over 30 years, so has been involved in young people’s charities for most of her life. Her hobbies are gardening and craft, so The Papillon Project is an exciting development and any help she can provide to the project is willingly given.
Sarah is an experienced and qualified Horticulture teacher and worked at Capel Manor College in London for 14 years; teaching Horticulture and Landscaping, Head of School for Horticulture and then leading on the quality of Teaching and Learning by supporting teachers to develop and advance their skills. Before working at the college Sarah worked in the Horticulture industry as a career changer.
Sarah had 5 amazing years working at Natural England delivering projects to enable more effective delivery of nature conservation at many of England’s beautiful nature reserves.
Sarah has been a lifelong volunteer for several charities; 24 years for Crisis the homelessness charity, Norwich Open Christmas, The Harington Scheme, TCV, Groundwork and 2 stints volunteering in India and Tanzania.
Sarah has strong belief and passion for connecting people to nature and how being outdoors adds beneficial health and wellbeing to our lives.
It is the vision of The Papillon Project that Sarah is inspired by; supporting children, young people and the wider community to enjoy the outdoors by learning, working together and to lead more sustainable, ethical and healthier lives. Sarah feels it is a huge privilege to be part of this.
Thomas join The Papillon Project as a Trustee at the beginning of 2023. Thomas is currently Head of History at Diss High School and has a passionate for the outdoors and thoroughly enjoys spending time at his allotment in Norwich. Thomas' wide educational experience greatly aids the strategical planning of our charitable work.
Schools' Project Lead, Designated Safeguarding Lead & founder of The Papillon Project
Matt was born and raised in Sussex. Unlike most state schools, Matt's former school (Oathall Community College) has a working school farm and market gardens which continues to offer a wonderful educational experience for many youngsters.
Matt studied history at the University of East Anglia, which included environmental history. He was particularly interested in the ‘wood shortage crisis’ which emerged during the early modern period. As a postgraduate, Matt completed fieldwork in post-war Bosnia to study how natural surroundings might help heal the wounds of war. Since university, he has worked and taught in rural Uganda where local food is grown because, with no local supermarkets, there was no alternative! In a previous life, Matt worked as a water sports instructor for many years working with children of all ages and abilities. Matt has also had the privilege of working for the New Zealand Red Cross in Christchurch following the earthquakes there.
With great interest, Matt has also visited Cuba to see the island’s success at growing food locally, without fossil fuels. He has also held an allotment in Norwich (Bluebell Allotments), and has completed an ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ course and holds a certificate in Permaculture Design
From 2013-2018, Matt was a full time humanities teacher at Reepham High School & College. It was during this time at this school that Matt decided to attempt to create a school allotment to inspire his students. After five years of non-stop work, and with the help of many amazing people, 'The Allotment Project' became a nationally recognised and celebrated secondary school allotment which subsequently won multiple awards. Alongside this, Matt has also had the huge privilege of taking many teenagers across The English Channel and North Sea onboard The Excelsior with The Excelsior Trust, sometimes in very choppy seas!
In 2018 his work and efforts at Reepham High School & College won him the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society's ‘School Gardening Champion of the Year’ award, which included meeting HRH The Prince of Wales. You can get a very clear sense of why Matt is ‘positively bonkers’ about trying to engage the next generation to grow their own food by viewing this nomination video (made without his knowledge) at the end of this bio.
Matt went on to win the 'Norwich and Norfolk Eco Hero Award', by public vote in 2019 with over 3000 people voting for him. He has published many articles, spoken publicly about his work and has made numerous TV appearances, including live on BBC Breakfast national news.
In 2019, Matt left full-time teaching to set up the charity 'The Papillon Project'. The multi-awarding winning 'Allotment Project' which Matt began in 2015 at Reepham High School & College, in many respects, was the 'accidental pilot' project that inspired Matt to create 'The Papillon Project' so he, and others, can help other secondary schools and colleges in Norfolk to also inspire children and young people to lead more sustainable lives too!
In 2023, Matt was invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to be a judge for the national 'Campaign for School Gardeners awards' alongside 'Green Fingered George' and BBC Gardeners' World presenter Frances Tophill.
On the importance of engaging young people at school with gardening, Matt says:
“Going to school simply has to be more about just tests and exams. These are, of course, really important, but, encouraging and skilling our children and young people to lead lives that work with, and not against, nature is of the greatest urgency… The Papillon Project is all about doing this across Norfolk, by supporting High Schools and their local communities to set up an allotment project.
A school allotment is a place for young people, designed with them and to inspire them, so they can inspire each other to grow their own food and so help to restore and work with nature, mediate the impact of climate change and promote their own physical and mental well-being.”
Matt lives with his wife on a small-holding in rural North Norfolk along with some lovely animals.
Harriet joined the charity since May 2021 and is professional gardener alongside a school gardening teacher. Harriet is currently supporting schools in South Norfolk and in Norwich.
Harriet, who holds a certificate in horticulture from the Royal Horticultural Society, has also worked in New Zealand as a professional gardener and has volunteered at organic farms there too. Throughout her career, Harriet has gained wide experience with working with children and young people from the age of 9 to 17.
Harriet has lived in Norfolk for 20 years and, as well as horticulture, has a background in creative arts and enjoy the challenge of transforming spaces.
Graeme’s passion for the outdoors began at a young age growing up in rural Lancashire and Cheshire. He spent his 20s as a Youth Worker in the North West, for local charities, such as the Canal Boat project, and for a secondary school. Graeme moved to Norfolk in 2011, to complete his PhD in International Development at the UEA. Living in a flat in Norwich, Graeme and his wife took on an allotment in order to grow their own vegetables and gain some outdoor space, which rekindled an enthusiasm and enjoyment for gardening, nature and sustainable living. Graeme and his wife have since moved to North Norfolk, where they spend most of their spare time in their garden chasing their chickens and continuing their desire to live ‘the good life’. Graeme is currently undertaking an RHS qualification in Horticulture and is really excited to be a part of the Papillon Project.
Poppy lives outside of King's Lynn and is presently supporting the charity's work in West Norfolk schools and also South Norfolk schools where her grandparents live. Poppy has recently completed landscape design qualifications and is looking to peruse a professional horticulture career in the future. Poppy is currently completing a Level 2 apprenticeship in horticulture with The Papillon Project and Suffolk New College and, as part of this experience, she currently gardens at walled gardens at Houghton Hall, Bishop's House and Raveningham Hall. Poppy has also worked as Norwich Farmshare too.
In spring 2023, Poppy's apprenticeship was selected by Apprenticeship Norfolk as a case study and featured in a collection of short films about apprenticeship opportunities in Norfolk.
Along with gardening being her great passion, Poppy is also a gifted and talented artist and loves to draw, which is ideal for garden design!
Alice is currently completing her placement year (internship) n Civil Leadership with The Papillon Project through the University of Birmingham. Alice first came across The Papillon Project in 2019 when the charity came to her school (Sprowston Community Academy) where she was the lead student for rebooting a very forgotten school allotment. Alice's role, as Schools' Project Assistant, involves working closely with the charity's core team in schools. Alice will also be stepping in as the editor of The Kaleidoscope, the charity's school focused newsletter, as she is also keen to gain experience with the communications side of the charity's work. Alice's favourite allotment vegetable is the runner bean but closely followed up by the courgette and tomato.
Holly grew up on the North Norfolk coast and was extremely lucky to spend her childhood surrounded by beaches, fields and forest which shaped her passion for nature. Inspired by a love of nature and interconnectedness Holly studied BSc Ecology, Conservation and Environment at the University of Sussex in Brighton. During her time at university Holly was particularly interested in biodiversity, climate change, natural resource use, sustainable development, environmental justice, community engagement and nature and wellbeing.
Holly is currently back in Norfolk and recently completed an amazing market gardening traineeship with Eves Hill Veg Co where she discovered a deep passion for gardening and community food growing. Holly is now working at Grapes Hill Community Garden, an urban community garden in Norwich where Holly’s role focuses on connecting with local projects and involving the local community in the garden.
Holly is extremely passionate about deepening connections to nature, especially with children and young people, and working with nature to benefit both human and environmental wellbeing. In a world dominated by fast-paced lifestyles, our disconnection from nature is seen as a main cause for environmental degradation and mental health crises. Holly believes that reconnecting people to nature through mindfulness, creativity, slowing down, noticing nature’s beauty and cycles, increasing land access and cultivating food, gardens and a sense of community is essential. Holly is so honoured and excited to be a part of The Papillon Project’s inspiring and important charitable work which she truly believes is a massive part of the solution!
In her spare time Holly loves creating (and very occasionally selling) art inspired by nature, folklore and wellbeing. Holly also enjoys reading, listening to music, playing guitar, swimming, yoga, wild camping, exploring new places and of course, gardening!
Louis discovered his interest in filmmaking after volunteering to produce and direct Matt Willer's nomination film for School Gardening Champion of the Year in 2018.
After receiving praise and commendation for his own work on the film, he then went on to produce a short documentary 'The Allotment Project', using the footage from the nomination film, specifically about the project at Reepham High School. This gives people insight into how the project runs and is why it is successful. It also won an international film award: WWOOF's Future Food and Farming Youth Video Awards (September 2019). You can view the video, and others on the ‘Our Work’ section of this website
Today, Louis is working with The Papillon Project to advise and produce new video content, with the aim of disseminating the idea and some of the approaches and techniques to school gardening. This is helping 'The Papillon Project's' values and learning to reach a wider audience.
George lives with his family in the beautiful Norfolk countryside where he spent much of his childhood watching the local wildlife, cycling and playing with friends in the nearby villages. After completing his earlier education at his local primary and secondary school, George went on to study History, Geography and Sociology A Levels at Reepham College, where he became well acquainted with Matt Willer, in his lessons and at the Reepham Allotment Project. George regularly volunteered during and outside of college hours in constructing the Allotment Project, along with helping students at the site and teaching them about the importance of permaculture, growing food organically and the protection of the environment. After two incredible years of working at Reepham, George was inspired to help make Matt’s allotment charity vision a reality, and now volunteers with The Papillon Project developing new and existing allotments at local secondary schools.
During this Gap Year, George plans to learn first-hand about the dynamics of wildlife conservation and the threats species and habitats face, by volunteering with a variety of local and national wildlife organisations such as the RSPB and The Norfolk Wildlife Trust. In addition, he plans to travel across the UK to different nature reserves to observe different conservation strategies in action. And if that wasn’t enough, he also hopes to do international volunteering in the Galapagos Islands in order to help preserve and experience the abundant yet, fragile biodiversity of this unique archipelago. After this, George will be taking up a placement at Kent University to Study a BSc in Wildlife Conservation with a Year in Professional Practice.
In his spare time, George tends to his extensive vegetable garden at home and grows organic produce for his family to use. He is also a passionate outdoorsman; he enjoys annual country sports and taking regular walks and bike rides near his home and outdoor swimming and sailing on the North Norfolk Coast. When not outside, George can often be found reading about natural history, listening to classical music or keeping updated with and discussing current affairs.
George says of his role and expectations:
‘The Papillon Project helps to encourage shared stewardship of our planet’s resources, fairer societies and the transfer of vital knowledge and skills; simply by creating long-term, ecologically sound allotments. It is so rewarding to play an active role working alongside students who have come together from a diverse range of social backgrounds, to produce something for their school that, due to the constraints of the Education System, is often impossible to contemplate.
The Papillon Project will generate both a series of self-sufficient allotments that become integral parts of School life, and in time form a network that can share resources efficiently to help create and improve other sites- just like a healthy forest sharing water and nutrients to survive.’
Fuchsia studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and her professional background lies in marketing, communications and event management.
She first encountered The Papillon Project whilst working as Communications Officer for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, and was blown away by the Project’s flagship allotment at Reepham High School.
On returning to Norfolk to work as a freelance writer, she got involved more directly, volunteering to sit on the Project’s Leadership team and Fundraising committee.
She spends a lot of her spare time growing vegetables on a patch of land in West Norfolk and is passionate about helping to connect everyone, young or old, with the great outdoors!
Portia originally trained as a ballet dancer at The Royal Ballet School and worked as a commercial dancer and model, before re-training as an actress at Drama Centre London.
Alannah is a graduate of Modern & Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge and speaks fluent French and Spanish. Before heading off to university, Alannah volunteered at her school allotment at Reepham High School and College which is where The Papillon Project all started. Alannah's role as the charity's International Exchange Lead is to help coordinate The Papillon Project's 'International Exchange Programme' which involves connecting the charity, and therefore Norfolk schools, with schools from around the world to help broaden the horizons of young people here in Norfolk and also abroad.
“The longer I spend in education, the more I realise how broad that term really is. Learning is not just about rearranging formulae and memorising facts and dates; we are learning all the time. The Papillon Project offers not only the possibility of learning about the environment and sustainability but other essential skills that the curriculum neglects; about co-operation and patience, about practical skills and the benefits of spending time out of doors, and it underpins the importance of all of these skills as part of ‘education'."
Libby is a graduate of Fine Art from Plymouth University. She often explores environmental issues through her art work and is passionate about the preservation of the natural world. Alongside her art she enjoys being outdoors, whether its getting grubby in a horse stable or long walks with a dog or two.
As an ex-student from Reepham High School and College she was an early participant of 'The Allotment Project' which is where her love for the Project began. Her creative practice has led her to enjoy thinking about new and exciting ways in which to portray the project to the wider community. Libby has been involved in past school allotment celebratory events such as 'Live at the Allotment' (click here).
Libby's role is to organise the charity's 'Tool Bank' (second hand tools for schools) and to organise seasonal upcycled craft workshops throughout the year to help teach others how to make crafts from unwanted and discarded materials which are then sold to raise funds via 'The Pap Up Shop'.
Will's role as the charity's Upcycling Lead is to help source safe and suitable materials that can be 'creatively reused' (upcycled) by the charity's core team in schools. Will's role also involves helping to source donated second-hand tools for the charity's 'Tool Bank'.