Thursday, 12 January 2017

New Year's Honour for BSBI County Recorder

BSBI would like to congratulate Robert Northridge, BSBI County Recorder for Co. Cavan and joint County Recorder for Fermanagh, on the award of an MBE in the New Year's Honours List.  

Before retirement, Robert was Vice-Principal of Portora Royal School, Enniskillen (alma mater of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett). We understand that the primary reason for the MBE was Robert's involvement with rowing and coaching, rather than his botany, but botanists will know him as the co-author (joint with Ralph Forbes) of the Flora of Fermanagh which won the BSBI/Wildflower Society's Presidents’ Prize a few years ago. 

Robert has been a driving force in the Irish rowing scene for decades and continues to have a significant input. BSBI members familiar with the energy and drive he brings to the botanical scene can well imagine him bringing that same positive 'can do' attitude to his work in the rowing community. Robert's contributions to BSBI and botany are not limited to recording: he is currently serving as Chair of BSBI's Committee for Ireland and attends BSBI Council meetings in that capacity (below, next to BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker). He was also one of the team behind the extremely successful BSBI Summer Meeting in 2015.

He has also taken on being County Recorder for Co. Cavan in the run-up to Atlas 2020, as the former VCR had retired and no one was doing any recording there. That's typical of Robert - he sees that something needs to be done and he gets on with it himself if nobody else is available. As well as all this, he has been Chair of the Fermanagh Field Club for as long as anyone can remember!

Robert's rowing prowess has proved extremely useful on botanical expeditions - the image below shows him ferrying a BSBI party to survey the islands of the Lough Derg, Co. Donegal, in June 2012. Robert's wife Hannah (also a botanist) is in the rear of the boat and fellow botanist Margaret Marshall is in the prow. The fern in the foreground is Osmunda regalis.

Robert is also at the oars in the image above right, also taken on Lough Derg, with Station Island Monastery in the background. Many of you will have heard of Station Island as the subject of one of Seamus Heaney’s better known poems.

If you are wondering why it took us until 12th January to report this award to you, that's because Robert, with typical modesty, didn't tell anybody so we had to find out by circuitous means. That gives you the measure of the man. 

BSBI is delighted to see Robert's many years of volunteering and service to the rowing community in Ireland acknowledged by this award of an MBE. It is richly deserved and we'd like to thank him for his equally impressive services to botany. Congratulations from all at BSBI to Robert Northridge MBE.