Sunday, 20 July 2014

Peter Sell's memorial

At the Botanic Gardens
Image: I. Denholm
Botanists assembled in Cambridge last Thursday to pay tribute to Peter Sell, who sadly died last year. 

Both Ian Denholm (BSBI President) and Lynne Farrell (BSBI's outgoing Hon Gen Sec) travelled to Cambridge University Botanic Gardens for the event, which Lynne tells me was "attended by around 35 people, and eight people gave short talks about Peter and how he had helped them".

Ian said the event was "very informal, moving but also joyous. Kicked off with tea/coffee plus an abundance of cake in the atrium of the Sainsbury Laboratory

Beverley Glover, Richard West and Philip Oswald
Image: L. Farrell
"Then we moved to the lecture theatre for a welcome from Beverley Glover, who is Chair of Plant Science at Cambridge University but also the new Director of the Botanic Gardens. 

"Then a series of tributes from long-standing friends including Philip OswaldPeter Grubb, Chris Preston, Lynne Farrell and Tim Sell (Peter’s son). Some traits emerged consistently from these:

Sorbus sellii
Plant by L. Farrell; label by I. Denholm
Outstanding observational skills and eye for detail.

Intolerance of ‘botchers’ – folks who don’t follow prescribed procedures for describing and naming taxa.

Willingness to extend help and advice to youngsters starting out in botany (eg Chris Preston!).

Infectious sense of humour.

"Then we moved into the Gardens for wine (and more cake..). Beverley Glover led a group to see the holotype of Sorbus sellii, a taxon first noted by Peter Sell in 1989 and formally described by Rich et al. in the last issue of New Journal of Botany

Lynne added that "Sorbus sellii is growing as a mature tree in the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, of unknown origin but named in Peter's honour". 

Many thanks to both Ian and Lynne for telling us about the event and sending these images of BSBI botanists assembled to pay tribute to a remarkable friend, mentor and colleague.