A cradle of life was born out of a sterile clay pit when Tim Smit co-founded the Eden Project, a horticultural haven housing the largest rainforest in captivity and the greatest conservatories in the world.
The award winning project, based near St Austell in Cornwall, has received more than 12 million visitors since it opened, and a million more people are flooding in every year.
Previously, Tim discovered and restored the busiest private gardens in the UK, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which now attracts over 400,000 visitors a year.
His work at the Eden Project has contributed more than £900 million to the local economy and helped educate people on their dependence and connection to the natural world.
He said: “Eden is proud of its success in changing people’s perception of the potential for and the application of science, by communicating and interpreting scientific concepts through the use of art, drama and storytelling, as well as living up to its mission to take a pivotal role in local regeneration.
“It demonstrates once and for all that sustainability is not about sandals and nut cutlets, it is about good business practice and the citizenship values of the future.”
Born in Holland, Tim was educated in the UK and read archaeology and anthropology at Durham University, before working as an archaeologist in the north east of England.
Tim’s career changed direction when he spent ten years in the music industry, as a composer and producer in both rock music and opera, receiving seven platinum and gold discs. He worked with artists including Barry Manilow and the Nolan Sisters.
He moved to Cornwall in 1987 and shortly after discovered The Lost Gardens of Heligan, an estate lost since the First World War, which he restored. In 1995 he came up with the concept for the Eden Project, which eventually opened to the public in 2000.
Among his many awards, Tim received the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism in the UK from the English Tourism Council in 2000, an Honorary CBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2002 and The Royal Society of Arts Albert Medal. In June 2012 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Her Majesty the Queen.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Tim in recognition of his contribution to global and environmental issues and education, as exemplified through the Eden Project and its significance to the economy and community.