BSBI Awards for Outstanding Contributions

About the Awards

The new BSBI Awards were launched in 2022, with two categories: an outstanding contribution to botany in your area (county, region or country); and an outstanding contribution to British and Irish botany.

Chris Miles, Chair of BSBI Board of Trustees, said: "The award of Honorary Membership and the Presidents’ Award are only available to a small number of people doing really outstanding things for botany and the BSBI. We wanted to recognise that many others do exceptional things to support and enthuse their fellow botanists often on a more local basis.

"Nominations Awards and Governance Committee considers the nominations and recommends these to the Board at its March meeting. More details and nomination forms can be found on the password-protected members' area of this website (you need to be a BSBI member to make a nomination).

"It is with great pleasure that we can announce the 2023 Awards made to members who were nominated in the two Award categories. They or a family member receive a certificate and the details below also appear in the April 2024 issue of our membership magazine, BSBI News. We express our thanks to those making nominations and our congratulations to those receiving the awards".

Awards 2023: an outstanding contribution to botany in your area (county, region or country)

Malcolm Macneill, nominated by Michael Philip

Malcolm is nominated for his extensive urban recording work in Glasgow and surrounding areas resulting in a clearer picture of the urban Flora here than ever before. His knowledge of the urban environment, especially in Glasgow, is almost forensic – knowing every street, lane, kerb, carpark and patch of waste ground across a huge area. His painstaking work includes not only huge species lists, but also very accurate grid references and descriptions to enable checking, specimen collecting or photography by others.

Malcolm’s encyclopaedic knowledge of plants has equipped him to notice and identify plants, often vegetatively or out-of-season, which might otherwise have escaped attention. This acute observation has produced a great number of first vice-county records.

Malcolm has generated many thousands of records which contribute data not only to BSBI but also to the Botanical Society of Scotland’s ‘Urban Flora Project’. He has led group urban recording. He participated in trialling BSBI’s urban botany initiative in 2023. Malcolm is fully involved in the field outings held by local botany networks, and it is always an education to be out with him – especially in an urban context. General plant ID skills amongst the participants have been greatly improved as a result.

Ian McNeill, nominated by John Faulkner jointly with all VCRs surrounding Tyrone VC40

Ian is nominated for the extent of his recording activity in Co. Tyrone and neighbouring counties (“Greater Tyrone”) over a period of more than 40 years. Ian started recording plants in 1980 and has been the VCR for Tyrone either jointly or solely since 1992.  Tyrone, his native county, is the largest VC in Ulster and the second largest in Ireland.

Although engaged full-time in school teaching, he systematically recorded the entire county and has contributed a huge number of records over a large area that would otherwise be under-recorded. In due course Ian was the driving force and lead author for the Flora of Tyrone, published in 2010 as a 374-page full-colour A4 book by National Museums, Northern Ireland.

Ian has always encouraged others to join him on excursions, learn from his expertise, and share in his humour and enjoyment of the outdoors. Perhaps his greatest botanical achievement of all has been to bring up his two sons as botanical recorders: one of them is now a member of the Committee for Ireland and VCR for Co. Antrim.

Richard Pryce nominated by Stephanie Tyler on behalf of the Welsh Committee

Richard is nominated for his long and ongoing support for Welsh botany and botanists. He has been VCR for Carmarthenshire since 1978, latterly jointly with his wife Kath and is an important member of the Committee for Wales. He took over editorship of the Welsh Bulletin in spring 1990 and has continued that role either solely or jointly up until the present.

Richard and Kath arrange the annual Glynhir residential recording week which is very popular with botanists from all over Wales and further afield as they get excellent tuition from Richard.

Richard has provided botanical advice to several nature conservation fora including the Carmarthenshire Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership and local Councils on land management. He was instrumental in the formation of the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group and undertakes surveying of members’ sites and advising on best management to enhance the flora.

Richard has also been a considerable support to other VCRs in Wales and to committee members and is very well respected among botanists and decision-makers in Wales, always providing sound advice and information. Richard was BSBI President 2002-2005 and was made an Honorary Member of the Society in 2008.

David Welch, nominated by David Elston

David is nominated for his contribution particularly to botanical activity in North East Scotland. He was VCR for North Aberdeenshire 1977-2023 (jointly since 2018) and Kincardineshire 1994-2023 (jointly since 2018).

He was sole author of Flora of North Aberdeenshire published in 1993 which includes a full account of the critical groups (brambles, hawkweeds, dandelions). He was a regular author of county-level articles in BSBI publications.

David was the long-standing referee for Myosotis and was a prompt responder regarding specimens and enquiries. David was also senior Scottish referee for brambles taking over after George Ballantyne’s death.

David was botanical member of the panel of experts advising Aberdeenshire Council on the selection of Local Nature Conservation Sites and on the defence of these sites when threatened by planning applications (most memorably presenting evidence at Menie Links inquiry, now the site of a Trump International golf course).

David led over 25 annual botanical excursions in North East Scotland for Scottish Wildlife Trust. The community of botanists he helped foster has given rise to the North East Scotland Botanical Recording Network which had its first group meetings in 2023.

David died in May 2023.

Awards 2023: an outstanding contribution to British and Irish botany

Tim Rich, nominated by Nominations, Awards and Governance Committee

Tim Rich is probably one of the most widely known British and Irish botanists today. He has outstanding field identification skills, a role as referee for four genera/families, a prolific contribution through scholarly botanical papers and monographs, talks and workshops, social media output, TV appearances and research undertakings over a long period.

Recent regular BSBI blogposts and his own YouTube channel (Tim’s Botanical Riches) has enabled BSBI and Botany to reach new audiences. His naming of a Hawkweed after Sir David Attenborough and his appearance with him on the One Show is one particular highlight.

His analysis of the 1987-88 BSBI Monitoring Scheme, which he co-ordinated and subsequent work on recording bias and standardised recording was groundbreaking. He coordinated publication of the Plant Crib in 1988, still a botanical best seller. In the Handbooks series the Crucifers Handbook in 1991 was followed by joint authorship of Sorbus in 2010, Hieracium section Alpestria in 2011, Gentians in 2019 and Hieracium section Foliosa and section Prenanthoidea in 2021. Tim has authored 368 publications and research papers dating from the mid-1980s to the present day and many more jointly. He has named 32 new species, subspecies, hybrids and subgenera.

He has supported several others to publish their research either as Handbooks or Floras. As a referee he responds quickly to queries from fellow botanists and his responses are often accompanied by extremely helpful ID notes.

With Sarah Whild he initiated the New Year Plant Hunt which has grown so much in popularity and relevance for BSBI.

Using his identification skills, he has collected seed from many Hieracium¸ Sorbus and Taraxacum species across Britain for the Millenium Seedbank, a service not only for today’s but tomorrow’s students of the British and Irish flora.

Tim was made an Honorary Member in 2006.

Awards 2022: an outstanding contribution to botany in your area (county, region or country)

Michael Philip, nominated by Alison Rutherford

Michael is nominated for transforming botanical recording and field work in Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire in west central Scotland. His botanical networks approach has built a considerable team of active botanical recorders. He is commended for his enthusiastic and friendly organisational and communication skills both in getting people active, getting them learning and in targeting their recording efforts. He is also producing newsletters to keep all in touch with what is found and achieved. He has willingly shared his approach more widely in BSBI.

Martyn Stead, nominated by Delyth Williams

Martyn is nominated because of his sustained contribution of reliable and meticulous records over a long period in most of the North Wales vice-counties and to several recording groups in north Wales and NW England. He has made a particularly large contribution to recording in Denbighshire and Cheshire since 2000. Alongside this he is commended for his patient and enthusiastic support for learners and young professionals. He regularly supports the County Recorder in tutoring at learning days, and has been instrumental in attracting new people to the recording groups.

Bryan Yorke, nominated by Jon Dunn

Bryan is nominated as an inspirational naturalist who communicated his love of the flora of the English North West. He made an insightful study of the Epipactis species and hybrids on Hutton Roof where he annually monitored each plant and protected them from grazing. He is particularly nominated for his pioneering online presence. Using the media of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, Bryan put his daily diaries, illustrations, photography and even poetry online where others could see it and use it as a research resource. His blogs have had over 600k views. Bryan died suddenly in May 2022.

Awards 2022: an outstanding contribution to British and Irish botany

Fred Rumsey, nominated by Nominations, Awards and Governance Committee

Fred is nominated for his long standing contribution to research, publications and fieldwork on British and Irish botany. He is regarded as one of our top field botanists and co-authored the England Red List. He has published important studies on Hyacinthoides, Orobanchaceae and Euphrasia. He has co-authored BSBI handbooks on Euphrasia and Orobanche. He is a regular and popular speaker at BSBI meetings, able to communicate how genetic studies help (or hinder) field botanists. He regularly leads training meetings particularly on ferns. He is BSBI Referee for a number of genera. He has also published work on the Flora of Macaronesia.