Meet Annette McCartney

By Annette McCartney
Learning Producer
13 June 2022

Introducing Annette

Even as a little kid I was a big history nerd, so I think working at the Tower of London is the best job in the world.

As the Learning Producer in Superbloom Schools Team, it’s been my job to plan and produce lots of fun learning resources for schools that link with Superbloom’s most important theme – how nature and gardens support wellbeing.

This is me aged 11. I dressed up as Elizabeth I for my school’s pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

I obviously took my role very seriously!

What we've been doing in the run-up to Superbloom

It’s been a real team effort to create so many new learning resources in time for the Superbloom. I worked with 5 different people with expertise in different subjects to create the lesson packs for Primary, Secondary and SEND. The themes cover everything from pollinating insects and Sir Walter Raleigh’s medicinal garden at the Tower, to the Platinum Jubilee and the coded nature symbols used in Tudor portraits.

I love the amazing story about Sir Walter Raleigh as a prisoner at the Tower. Most people don’t know that Raleigh helped himself to recover from depression by growing plants outside his room in the Bloody Tower and making medicines from them.

I decided to make a short film for schools about it but… I had to find an actor who looked like the portraits of Sir Walter! Take a look at the film and see if you think he does. We also had help from a lady who specialises in brewing plant remedies using a copper still just like Raleigh would have used back in the early 1600s. It was brilliant fun brewing with the hot still but we had to have a Beefeater standing nearby with a fire extinguisher during the filming just in case anything caught fire!

Since the New Year, I’ve been managing a fantastic team of 12 workshop leaders who have been travelling all over the UK delivering art-based sessions at some of the project’s partner schools. Students have been making amazing paper flowers and wire sculptures of pollinating insects. They have been learning about how bees and flowers need each other to survive and how we humans need bees and flowers for our own wellbeing and survival. This is a really important theme for the Superbloom project!

Have you used the Garden Manual yet? I worked with horticulture therapy charity Thrive to make the manual easy to read for students as well as teachers. One teacher has even been using the Garden Manual for reading practice in English lessons, which I think is really cool.

We have been really impressed with your Superbloom projects!

Just looking at the photos that schools have sent to the Superbloom Schools Team, it’s really fantastic to see that students of all ages, levels and abilities have been have learning new skills by helping with designing, planting and caring for their Superbloom garden. I particularly like this photo - this young gentleman is proving that wheelchair users make good gardeners too.

We can't wait for you to visit the Tower!

I’m so excited about our special celebration days for schools in June and July at the Tower of London. I can’t wait to see students’ and teachers’ faces when they see the Superbloom in the Moat for the first time! Seeing the Superbloom for real is going to be the experience of a lifetime.  

All of the Superbloom learning resources are available to download here: Superbloom learning resources | Historic Royal Palaces (hrp.org.uk) 

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Meet Debra Whittingham

By Debra Whittingham
Deputy Governor & Head of Operations at the Tower of London
30 May 2022

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