Chiswick Kitchen Gardener at Women of the Year event

Karen Liebreich's work gets her special invite


.A chance walk with her dog in Chiswick House led to Karen Liebreich setting up the popular Chiswick House Kitchen Garden. And now her work with the kitchen garden has resulted in an invitation to join 400 others who have made significant contributions to society at the Women of the Year lunch on Monday 17th October.

Karen's involvement in the project came about when she spotted workmen measuring up the Chiswick site while walking her dog six years ago. When she discovered that the area might be turned to commercial use, she decided to start a campaign to help transform the area into a valuable community space. Leading a group of dedicated volunteers, she persuaded the local council to open the gates to the community, allowing them to use a small bed for planting vegetables. From these modest beginnings, the project gained over 70 volunteers and was soon running a host of community outreach programmes which included art projects, healthy eating sessions and gardening lessons for local school children.

Having presented a solid case for the garden, reiterating its educational and recreational value to the community, the Kitchen Garden project received charitable status. In December 2009, the project was given to the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust to run, which has committed to continue the work led by Karen and the local community.

As well as leading the kitchen garden project, she has also written a number of successful titles such as The Letter in the Bottle and Fallen Order.And her enthusiasm for gardening projects has continued with Abundance London, a project to harvest London’s unpicked city fruit. She is also a trustee of the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, where she helps to run a number of kitchen and community gardens in the surrounding area.

A spokesman for the Women of the Year award said every woman invited to the lunch was worthy of celebration.

" They represent not only themselves but the millions of extraordinary women who make a difference every day. In a world which often celebrates ‘celebrity’ – Women of the Year sets itself apart by honouring real achievement and diversity. ".

Speaking of her achievements and attendance at the lunch Karen comments: “ I'm really honoured and thrilled to be invited to the Woman of the Year Lunch. The Kitchen Garden project was a huge amount of work, and there was a whole team of people working their socks off to make it a success. It's lovely to have that achievement acknowledged. I'm really looking forward to the lunch - and not just for the food!"

Dame Helena Kennedy QC, President of the Women of the Year, comments: “The lunch celebrates women’s triumphs over adversity; their inventiveness; their humanity; their compassion and dedication in many fields; their sporting and artistic glory; their creativity and sheer genius. One woman’s success may not mean the world has changed but lauding it, cheering it, can give courage and inspiration to others. Our society is full of fabulous women and, midst the economic gloom, it should be a source of celebration.”

At the lunch, five awards will be presented to exceptional women who have each proved an inspiration to others through their courage, selflessness and dedication.

The winners are selected by a diverse cross-section of women represented on the nominating council, consisting of prominent figures from the arts, media, science, politics and a number of other major fields.

Previous Women of the Year winners include singer singer Annie Lennox, and Dame Vera Lynn .