Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A shame we had to cancel the last meeting - the very high winds forecast meant that the woods were not a safe place to be in - and our leader, Rod, had to cry off anyway, through illness.
All that is left to button up the field work for 2012 is the final gathering of Merioneth Nats on Thursday when the excitement will be meeting Jay Spencer-Price, Polly's little one and his mum, plus our acting Welsh Officer, Paul Green.  We hope to do some useful planning for next year then, too.

A sad event yesterday was the funeral of A J E [Tony] Smith, author of The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland [1978], and The Liverworts of Britain and Ireland [1990]   I have sent the following note for inclusion in the next Welsh Bulletin:
Tony Smith on holiday in Tenerife 2002

I am sad to tell you that Tony [A J E] Smith has died in hospital at the age of 77, having lived with diabetes since he was a small boy.
After a D Phil at Oxford, where he worked on the taxonomy of Cow-wheats, [Melampyrum],Tony lectured at Swansea University before he came to Bangor. There he became Reader in Botany and was also an external examiner at the University of Reading
He retired early in 1999 to look after his wife Ruth in her last illness.
He wrote the first bryophyte floras of the British Isles for almost 80 years [liverworts] and over 50 years [mosses]. A 2nd edition of his Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland was published in 2004.
After Ruth's death in 2000 Tony travelled widely, mostly on botanical tours, and cultivated his beautiful garden where he had an impressive collection of Pelargoniums among other treasures.
Tony was a quiet, gentle and almost reclusive man and he was a kind and generous friend. He helped me enormously when I was doing an MSc in 2005. His friends will miss him very much.

Mark Hill reminisced about his association with Tony over decades preparing the Atlas of the Bryophytes of Britain and Ireland, and Nigel Brown spoke movingly of Tony's part in the vibrant atmosphere in Bangor's School of Botany in the 70s, with a staff of 40 and an excitement in the air.  How sad that Botany now persists almost as a marginal subject, in most British Universities. 

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