The leaf icon that plays a central role in Plunkett’s refreshed brand visuals is inspired by a significant person from the charity’s past.

“Remarkable and indomitable… dedicated… intelligent… untiring” – these are just some of the adjectives used on the sleeve of the book, The Little Nut Tree, to describe the memoirs’ author… a lady called Dr Margaret Digby CBE.

To say that Margaret is a former employee of Plunkett Foundation is a huge understatement.

For 50 years, she was the driving force behind our organisation, firstly as research assistant – working closely with founder Horace Plunkett, then as Secretary for 33 years (with a break because of the Second World War), and then finally as a Consultant.

At times, Margaret single-handedly kept the Plunkett Foundation going. She then became an Honorary Trustee in 1977, eight years before she died, aged 82.

It is fitting that we bring Margaret back into prominence as we launch a new look for the charity, because she was the first to introduce a tree for Plunkett’s logo, which then evolved into a leaf motif, and this has been refreshed again into an icon that is our unique and distinctive visual signature.

We have intentionally re-connected to Margaret, and re-established her presence in the brand.

Writing in her Memoirs as she returned to Plunkett after the Second World War, Margaret says:

“The Foundation building had been damaged by blast and, though it had been patched up, the structure needed a good deal of attention. In the street many houses still had gaping roofs and boarded-up windows.

“Several trees had been mown down. One I noticed, though shattered to the roots, had sent up a slender shoot of green. In the next few years, I watched it grow into a young tree. I took it as a symbol of resurrection and had it stamped on our covers. The little nut tree [I had seen in my garden as a child] had re-appeared in a new context.” (The Little Nut Tree – the Memoirs of Margaret Digby, p249)

Many of the communities we are supporting to establish democratically-owned shops, pubs, cafes or other business models, will no doubt resonate with this notion of ‘resurrection’ or of green shoots growing again in places where there had been no local amenities or places for people to come together.

Margaret was a pioneer who laid the foundations for the charity’s mission today to support rural community-owned business that are resilient, thriving and inclusive. We can learn a great deal from her tireless work on behalf of communities, not only in the UK but globally too. Margaret is even more extraordinary because she achieved all she did in a time period when it was rare for women to work, lead organisations and travel the world.

A tribute to Margaret written after her death in 1985, says: “Margaret had a profound knowledge of co-operative movements throughout the world, and she likewise enjoyed the trust and confidence of co-operators, many of whom she had met on their home ground.

“None owe a greater debt of gratitude to Margaret Digby than the British agricultural movement, left largely leaderless and rudderless after the collapse of the English central organisation in 1924. Painfully and slowly it recovered its balance during the 1930s and 40s, helped at every stage by its one constant ally, the Plunkett Foundation.”

The foreword text in The Little Nut Tree adds, “Margaret Digby’s dedicated work in every aspect of co-operation and her interest in improving the lives of people all over the world involved her in many of the momentous events of the 20th century, and brought her into contact with an extraordinary variety of people. Her contribution to the cause of co-operation is unsurpassed.”

As you look at our fresh leaf icon, take a moment to reflect on the legacy of people like Margaret Digby from the organisation’s past, and what it can mean for creating innovative, impactful and inclusive spaces in communities across the UK today and into the future.

Join the movement: Become a member today

Why not join over 600 individuals, community businesses and corporate partners and become a member of Plunkett UK? Your membership, which for individuals’ costs just £20 per year, will support our ambition to grow the community ownership movement across the nation.

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