Sunday 26 November 2017

BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2017

Viewing the exhibits at the AEM
Image: S. Knapp
Yesterday 237 botanists came together for BSBI's Annual Exhibition Meeting, held this year at the Natural History Museum, London (NHM).

The day opened with a warm welcome from BSBI's outgoing President John Faulkner and from Dr Sandy Knapp, Head of the Algae, Fungi and Plants Division at the NHM.

Then Jodey Peyton, ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and a key member of BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee, took the stage to introduce the first of the day's speakers, BSBI Field Meetings Secretary Jon Shanklin. 

Jon talked about our 2017 Summer Meeting, held in Flintshire, and our 2018 Summer Meeting which takes place on the Isle of Man next July.
Kevin talks about threatened plants
Image: K. Andrews

More details here.

Next up was Dr Margaret Bradshaw MBE who has been a BSBI member since 1951 and talked about the decline of the rare flora of Upper Teesdale.

She was followed by a botanist at the other end of the age spectrum, Alex Mills, who told us about the NHM's 'Identification trainers for the future' programme.

The morning talks session closed with Dr Kevin Walker, BSBI's Head of Science, on what we learned from the Threatened Plants Project, to which hundreds of BSBI members contributed and which resulted in a recently published book, Threatened Plants in Britain and Ireland.

To find out more, check out this interview with Kevin.

Orchid Hunter Leif Bersweden talks to outgoing
BSBI President John Faulkner; you can also see
 the New Nature stand next to Leif's stand
Image: W. Arshad
Then we had 90 minutes for exhibit browsing, networking, lunch and visiting Summerfield Books' pop-up bookshop before returning to the Lecture Theatre for BSBI's AGM.

Ian Denhom was in the chair to run through BSBI's achievements in the past year, to introduce new Hon Gen Sec Delyth Williams and to invite to the stage David Pearman who talked us through BSBI's finances.

We also had the voting in of Council members and trustees.

Packed Lecture Theatre
Image: R. Clark
I'm delighted to let you all know that all five proposed trustees (details here), including the NHM's Dr Sandy Knapp, were voted in unanimously!

The AGM also features the changing of the guard, when we say thank you and goodbye to our outgoing President and welcome our new President, voted in at last year's AEM.

I was able to catch up with and interview both outgoing President John Faulkner and incoming President Chris Metherell and will be sharing both interviews in the next few days.
Botanical artist Martyn Allen shows Monica
Frisch some of the exhibits on the
Association of British Botanical Artists stand
Image: S. Morrish

After coffee we were back in the Lecture Theatre for the final session of the day chaired by Kylie Jones, Anglian Water's Operational Biodiversity Manager and another key member of BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee.

She introduced Andrew Branson, longterm BSBI member and former editor of British Wildlife magazine, who has just taken over the editorship of BSBI News, our membership newsletter. 
Packed exhibition hall
Image: J. Mitchley

We got a sneak peek at what we can expect to see in the January issue - exciting!

Next up was BSBI Irish Officer Dr Maria Long who told us how she has been building and supporting Ireland's botanical network

Jaws dropped as she told us about all the fabulous field meetings and conferences she has arranged, the many young botanists who've been getting involved, the celebrated Rough Crew, the buzz on social media... 

George's talk proved very popular
Image: S. Barrell
You'll have gathered that I'm a huge fan of Maria and all that she has achieved in Ireland!

Somebody else about whom I've been known to gush is George Garnett who followed Maria onto the stage. 

I spotted George (then just 15 years old) on Twitter back in January 2014- he took part in our New Year Plant Hunt and was expressing a desire for a career in plant taxonomy.

With his mum's approval we invited him to exhibit at our AEM that year and the following year he became the youngest person ever to speak at a BSBI Exhibition Meeting! 

The entries in the BSBI Photographic
Competition 2017
Image: S. Medcalf
So who better than George, now 18 and reading botany under Dr M. at Univ. Reading, to address the meeting on the subject of Growing the Next Generation of Botanists.

Closing the day's talks was Mark Duffell, botanist, horticulturist, botanical tutor and key member of BSBI's Training & Education Committee, who talked us through how BSBI supports botanical training.
Peter Leonard's exhibit on Leontodon saxatilis
Image: D. Steere

Worth noting here that at the AGM earlier in the day, Mark had been unanimously voted onto BSBI Council, reflecting the fact that training/ education is now acknowledged as one of the "twin pillars" of BSBI, along with our science and research. 

We are committed to supporting that next generation of botanists as well as helping older botanists hone their skills!

And with that we packed everything away and retired to a nearby pub where a private room was reserved for us to unwind after the most amazing day and get ready for the trek home. 

Univ. Reading students in the pub,
 moments after they heard that
John Poland has a new book in the pipeline!
Image: J. Mitchley
Our 237 Exhibition Meeting visitors had come from Jersey, from the Republic of Ireland, from Edinburgh, from north and south Wales, and from across England (Devon and Kent to Yorkshire and Northumberland). 

Another dozen or so people had set off for the meeting but bad weather and cancelled trains conspired against them and they had to turn back. 

For their benefit, and so that anyone else who couldn't make it doesn't miss out, we will be sharing as many as possible of the exhibits in electronic form in the coming days.

Ellen Goddard's poster: kin recognition
and communication in Ground-ivy
Image: E. Goddard
We've already uploaded the eight talks offered at the Exhibition Meeting - you can download them right now by clicking on the relevant link on the programme here

You can also get a flavour of the day's proceedings by clicking here to see what some of those 237 visitors thought about the meeting!

We were also delighted to offer 38 exhibits in total: this includes two exhibitors (from the Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators and from the Society of Botanical Artists) who turned up on the day and asked if we could find a spare display board for them. 

They were in luck - we always keep a 'Cinderella board' for this eventuality! 

So we'll be inviting them, along with our 36 other exhibitors, to not only send us their exhibits for uploading to our website, but also to share the stories behind those exhibits here on BSBI News & Views. Watch this space!

Dr M's poster: 24 creative
ways to teach botany
Image: J. Mitchley 
Huge thanks go to our hosts, the Natural History Museum, and especially to fabulous Fred Rumsey who led two hugely popular tours of the NHM's Sloane Herbarium and Sandy Knapp who was there at silly o'clock to help with the set-up, who welcomed us, was voted in as a BSBI trustee, tweeted about the meeting throughout the day and joined us in the pub afterwards. We love you Sandy :-)

Thanks also to my fellow members of BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee: 
chairs Jodey and Kylie who have also put in so much time in recent months helping prepare for the Exhibition Meeting; 
Ryan Clark and Waheed Arshad who helped man the registration desk, assisted speakers and exhibitors, tweeted and took photos of the day's proceedings; 
Field Meetings Secretary Jon Shanklin who helped set up and dismantle the stands; 
and Ian Denholm, chair of both M&C committee and BSBI's Board of Trustees and is the man behind M&C's success - Ian liaised with AEM speakers and guided and supported us all the way.

Hands up for botany!
Image: J Mitchley
Finally, thanks go to Mike Waller, formerly an NHM ID trainer, who came in early to help with set-up, and to Jane Houldsworth (BSBI Head of Operations) and Julie Etherington (BSBI Finance Officer) who pitched in throughout the day wherever they were needed. 

The day's proceedings would not have gone nearly as smoothly without each and every one of you so - thank you all!

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