Sunday, 19 January 2014

End of an era: John Bailey's retirement.

Clive Stace, John Bailey, Richard Gornall
and visiting researcher Qingbo Gao
Image: L. Marsh
Biology Dept staff at University of Leicester got together last week to hold a small leaving-party for John "Professor Knotweed" Bailey

Friends and colleagues, current and former PhD students, and of course the Herbarium Team, all assembled to hear Head of Dept. Dr. Iain Barber talk us through John's time at University of Leicester, and his many achievements. 

Prof Clive Stace came over from East Anglia (yes, Clive has moved house, so sadly VC55 is now Staceless except in book form) to join in the many glowing tributes to John. 

Stuart Desjardins, Clive Stace and John Bailey
Image: L. Marsh
There was so much to fit in - we heard the twists and turns of John's career; how he started out as a 'Wyggy boy' * (just like David Attenborough) before taking up his first post at the University - but as a medical technician rather than a botanist! Then he left, retrained, came back... 

We heard about Anne Conolly, and about John's PhD students, like Stuart Desjardins and Cat Pashley. Clive Stace (past President of BSBI) thanked John for his contribution to botany, which included long service as Secretary of BSBI Meetings Committee. And JP himself said a few words about Japanese Knotweed - no surprises there!  
Pat Heslop-Harrison (in white shirt) at John Bailey's leaving-do
Image: L. Marsh

John will still be joining us on fieldtrips for Module 2 of the Plant ID class, which resumes next month. 

Maybe now he has more free time, he will be able to come out on more BSBI VC55 field meetings and John: how about writing a guest Blogpost for us, telling us more about your botanical career and experience of botany in Leicestershire & Rutland? And please include your story about Anne Conolly at Kew ;-)

Clive Stace in the Herbarium, University of Leicester
Image: L. Marsh
I spotted Pat Heslop-Harrison, editor of Annals of Botany, in the crush around the buffet - apparently the entire contents of a special issue of AoB (on pollinators) are being made available free of charge for one month. More details here where you can also click on the link in the list on right (Blogs by BSBI members)  to see Pat's excellent AoB Blog.
After the leaving-do, Clive came into the Herbarium and the image (on left) shows him looking at the specimen of Spiranthes spiralis which he and a friend collected on a June day in 1953, when Clive was just 14 and the plant was more frequent. Every herbarium sheet tells a story

John Bailey and former PhD student Cat Pashley
Image: L. Marsh
Note the photograph on the Herbarium wall of Tom Tutin  (just behind Clive's shoulder). Clive succeeded Tom as Herbarium Curator, and then Richard Gornall took over when Clive retired. That's quite a trio of eminent botanists, and each one is a BSBI past President. No wonder botany is thriving in Leicestershire - we are all standing on the shoulders of these giants!

    * Wyggeston Boys Grammar School in Leicester - they don't make schools like that any more. I started at Wyggy Girls the same year that John left the nearby Boys School and can confirm that ALL Wyggestonians, male and female, were encouraged to take a keen interest in science, both in school and in their free time. 

Worked out ok for John Bailey and David Attenborough - our Wyggy Boys done good! 


Tim Curran, PE (ret) said...

No comments after 264 days? Well, for shame on all of you. Kudos to John Bailey for an amazing career. His research should be mandatory reading for anyone even pretending to know anything about knotweed. -Tim Curran, PE (ret)

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I'm trying to contact Dr. Bailey with information about Knotweed in the USA. I had found a page at the Leicester University site saying he was interested in hearing about it. I see now, through this article, he has retired. Does anyone have contact with him still? Does he still do research? Is there someone who has taken up his mantle? Thank you! :)