E A Bowles Memorial Award
E A Bowles is known principally for his horticultural work but his considerable interest in education is little known outside his local area.
Education of children became compulsory in 1880 but was still not free and many poor families could not afford to pay. This worried Bowles and, having obtained premises from his father, he set up a night school and club for local boys. There they received education in 'the three R's as well as encouragement in wider interests on the social side. Bowles had a natural gift for communicating with the young, as is borne out by memories of some of the Bowles Boys, and he took an active part in the project. He also found jobs for many of the boys when they reached an appropriate age.
The education in the night school was extended by visits to the garden where his encouragement led many to take up gardening as a career. One who benefited from his guidance was the young Frances Perry, later VMH & MBE, who went on to become one of the leading gardeners of the next generation.
With this in mind our Society decided to set up a Student Award to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death in 2004. It was to be for students and trainees in horticulture and related topics to carry out a project related to E A Bowles or his horticultural interests. An appeal was launched to raise the £10,000 needed to fund it into the future. Many donations were received from relatives of boys who had benefited directly from Bowles educational work: they wanted to put something back into furthering his work for future generations. The appeal was successful and it was possible to grant the first award in the anniversary year.
The Award is for £500 and is made biennially. In recognition for Bowles' considerable work for the RHS over such a long period that organisation has undertaken its administration and further details are provided in their Bursaries booklet.
The first Award, in 2004, went to a PhD student to assist a visit to South America to study the genus Lathyrus, while in 2006 it went to a horticulturist from Edinburgh Botanic Garden to help with a visit to Turkey to study native bulbous plants. Our Society holds copies of their reports in our archive.