Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Another memory of Dr Richard Pankhurst (1940-2013)

BSBI member Roy Smith (V.C.57) emailed with this recollection of Dr Richard Pankhurst

"He was a true gentleman. My wife remembers meeting Richard over 30 years ago. It was just before we married and she came on a Hawkweed Study Group meeting to Cheddar Gorge to find out what it was all about. We arrived a little late (from Derbyshire) and Ruth was a bit apprehensive about being out of her depth. Not to worry! Richard met us and immediately put us at ease. He then took time to show Ruth the plant we were looking at at the time which, despite the Group's name, happened to be Glaucous sedge. He explained it in such a nice way that she has always remembered it".


Richard on the look-out for Scots' lovage Ligusticum scoticum
 on coastal cliffs, Isle of Lewis, 2011
Photo: Paul Smith
Roy, who has been a BSBI member since 1972, continued, "Through the hawkweeds, I met Richard occasionally at the British Museum before he moved to Edinburgh, and then occasionally at the Annual Exhibition Meeting, the last time being three years ago at Birmingham. He always remembered me and always asked how Ruth was. He must have been on a different plane intellectually, but he didn't make you feel like that."

I agree, Roy, he wore his vast learning very lightly. BSBI botanists always extend a warm welcome to newcomers at our meetings - we all remember with warmest thanks those friendly botanists who first welcomed us into the society and showed us interesting plants in beautiful places. 

Many thanks to Roy and Ruth Smith for sharing their memory of Dr Richard Pankhurst.