Garden blogs

Happy 100th birthday, Dr Stanley J Hughes, Llanelli and Ottawa

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A few months after I was asked to organise the library resources donated to the new National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of the Millennium project, we heard that the family of one of the donors was coming – from Ottawa, Canada – to see his collection in situ. Panic set in as the collection was still in about 100 boxes on bespoke wooden shelves, with no catalogue located, and no policy about how it should be organised. I knew nothing about fungi, let alone ‘sooty moulds’ and taxonomic mycology – however, Nigel Stringer, another one of the library team provided the background we needed.

Somehow the fledgling library team persuaded Stan’s daughter that we would look after his remarkable collection properly, and in due course, Stan and his wife Lyndell came several times, to check on progress, and to bring more of his treasures. In 2009 he presided at the official opening in the company of some two dozen renowned UK mycologists. He was happy to do interviews in his native Welsh, the Welsh diaspora in Ottawa having kept the language alive there.

One of our most treasured memories as library volunteers, was receiving the exciting news on Canada Day, 1st July 2010 that Stan had been awarded the Order of Canada for  “his lifetime contribution to the field of mycology, particularly for his seminal work on the classification of various fungi and moulds, and for his mentoring of young scientists”.

On September 17th this year, he celebrates his 100th birthday, and we wish him the very best. We are delighted that he has lived to be a centenarian, and to see that his belief in the importance of the library at the new National Botanic Garden of Wales has been justified. I am even more pleased to say that details of the entire collection will soon be available on the Garden’s library database thanks to the efforts of another volunteer Kate Jones.

Margot Greer, coordinator of the library team, National Botanic Garden of Wales 2007-2016