Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 11:41

Tim Smit paid a glowing tribute to the teams behind the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan when he officially became an honorary Knight.

The Dutch-born Co-founder and Chief Executive of Eden, also renowned for the restoration of Heligan, received the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall Lady Mary Holborow, on behalf of The Queen.

At a gathering of family, friends and colleagues on Monday evening (September 5) in The Core education centre at Eden, he said: “What’s great about Eden and Heligan is that there’s a sense of that phrase ‘falling into good company at the right time.’ Heligan and Eden are good examples of people meeting at the right time to do something special.”

He also paid tribute to Lady Mary, who is soon to retire as Lord Lieutenant, saying: “If there’s any one person who has done more to change the outside perception of Cornwall, then I don’t know them.”

He was given the honour – full title Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) – in recognition of his services to public engagement with science. As he put on the KBE medal, he joked: “This is bling with attitude!”

Lady Mary described Tim’s part in Heligan and Eden as one of the most spectacular stories in Cornwall. She said it was a privilege to be asked to present the award to “someone who makes things happen.”

They were joined by Kevin Lavery, Chief Executive of Cornwall Council and Clerk to the Lieutenancy, who read the citation for the award. It mentioned Tim’s many achievements, including the £1 billion-plus boost Eden has brought to the local economy since the project fully opened.

Tim, who was previously awarded an honorary CBE in 2002, is a noted speaker and author. Earlier this year his account of the establishment of Eden was acclaimed as the best-selling environmental book of the past decade.

He was born in Holland on 25 September 1954. He read Archaeology and Anthropology at Durham University and then worked for ten years in the music industry as composer/producer in both rock music and opera. In 1987 he moved to Cornwall, where he and John Nelson together ‘discovered’ and then restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Tim remains a Director of the gardens to the present day.

The Eden Project began as a dream in 1995 and fully opened to the public on March 17, 2001. Since then more than 13 million people have come to see what was once a sterile pit turned into a cradle of life containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture that is symbolic of human endeavour.