Thursday 25 October 2018

Changing of the guard at BSBI's Publications Committee

Chris Boon (on left) & Pubs' Chair John Poland
Image: L. Marsh 
BSBI's Publications Committee met in London earlier this month and it was a bittersweet occasion. We were welcoming three new members - that was the sweet bit - but three long-standing and much-loved members didn't attend the committee meeting, having decided to stand down.

Chris Boon, who is still joint County Recorder for Bedfordshire, was the editor of the BSBI Viola Handbook and served at various times over the years as either Secretary or Chair of Publications Committee, emailed back in March that he would prefer to stand down.

Cambridgeshire botanist Philip Oswald also announced at the last committee meeting that he would prefer to stand down - he's been threatening to do so for some years and I will admit to having twisted his arm quite shamelessly to keep him on the committee for as long as possible! 

Philip (centre) & co-author Chris Preston
receive the Thackray Medal
Image courtesy of P. Oswald
Philip has featured on these pages in recent years as a friend of Peter Sell and was involved in seeing volumes 1 and 2 of 'Sell & Murrell' through to press following Peter's sad death in 2013

Philip also translated and co-authored (with Chris Preston) John Ray's Cambridge Catalogue, for which he and Chris received the Thackray Medal in 2013; he oversaw all the Latin translations of descriptions of new species in New Journal of Botany; he wrote a very useful review of wildflower ID books in print for the highly-respected periodical Taxon and then very kindly offered it for the BSBI's Get Involved webpage to help beginner botanists decide which ID book to buy - Philip's review is now one of the most popular downloads from the BSBI website; he also contributed to the New Year Plant Hunt, was a supporter of, and a contributor to, this News & Views blog from its early days, advised Publications Committee on many issues from copyright to use of images.... and these are just a few of the things I know about Philip's achievements in recent years!

Arthur (in red scarf) after a Pubs' meeting in 2014
Image: L. Marsh
Also standing down at the last committee meeting was Arthur Chater and it's hard for me to think of Arthur without Philip and vice versa. Arthur was County Recorder for Cardiganshire for many years and his 2010 Flora of Cardiganshire raised the bar for all subsequent county Floras. A champion of herbaria, Arthur's 'Collecting and Pressing Specimens', available to download via the BSBI Resources page, is still the best guide around to preparing a herbarium specimen. 

Arthur has also been a regular at BSBI Recorders' Conferences and Exhibition Meetings, taken part in New Year Plant Hunts and, like Philip, has been a staunch supporter of this News & Views blog from its inception. I'm delighted that Arthur and Philip have agreed to continue as corresponding members of the committee for a little longer, so we can still consult them but they aren't expected to travel to London just for committee meetings.

James admits he's more of a birder than a botanist...
So he had to check out the ring-necked
parakeets in Hyde Park before coming to Pubs!
Image courtesy of J. Common
Our three new members of Publications Committee (Pubs to its friends) are at earlier stages in their careers and, while they may not yet have chalked up as many illustrious achievements as Chris, Philip and Arthur, they have already made an impression in the botanical world!

James Common joins Pubs fresh from his triumph as founder of New Nature magazine, launched last year and attracting thousands of downloads each month from young naturalists. You have to be under 30 to write for New Nature and we are delighted that, because BSBI is attracting more young members than ever before, we now have a regular column in New Nature. You can download your copy here (it's aimed at under-30s but can also be downloaded by the young at heart!) - the September issue featured Jessica Hamilton talking about her BSBIKerry group and the November issue will feature.... ah I'll let you find that out for yourselves! James also handles comms for the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

Jerry wowing the audience at the
Recorders' Conference about GIS
Image: D. Alston 
The second new member of Pubs was Notts. botanist Jerry Clough who joins us as 'Mr Apps & Maps'! He provided the excellent map on the new Co. Antrim webpage which shows total species recorded in each hectad. 

Jerry is also a bit of a QGIS whizz-kid - his presentation on 'QGIS for recorders', at the recent BSBI Recorders' Conference, proved so popular that we had to find an extra classroom so he could offer follow-up one-to-one sessions after the talk! You can download Jerry's presentation from the Recorders' Conference webpage.

Ciara at the 2017 New Year
Plant Hunt in Leicester
Image: K. Akkerman
The last but not least new member of Pubs is Ciara Sugrue, who is currently studying for a PhD at Univ. Loughborough, where her research investigates the sensitivity of coastal wetland plants to climate change and eutrophication. 

Ciara joined the New Year Plant Hunt Support Team last year and impressed everyone with her efficiency, friendliness and excellent communications skills. She and fellow Loughborough student Ellen Goddard have gone on to volunteer with me under the 'BSBI Comms Team' banner and frankly I can't imagine life without them now! 

They have both joined BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee, have helped organise both the recent Recorders' Conference and the forthcoming Annual Exhibition Meeting, have blogged and written articles about BSBI and they appeared on BBC Countryfile in January promoting the New Year Plant Hunt. Ciara also finds time to run the very successful BSBI Instagram account which is helping us reach new audiences. 

Some of Pubs' members in the pub after Pubs:
From left: Louise, BSBI President Chris Metherell, 

Pubs' Chair John Poland, Prof Paul Ashton 
(also Chair of Training Committee), Jerry, James, 
Ciara & Chair of Trustees Ian Denholm
Pubs' members, new and old, retired to the pub after the committee meeting, as is our wont, and we were all delighted when Arthur arrived to join us for dinner - and no doubt to give the new members the once-over and see if they passed muster! I'm glad to say that they did. 

Now we just need to coax Philip down from Cambridge for dinner and then we'll have the best of both worlds, the old and the new!

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