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A Synopsis of Don Smith’s Work and Interests

Don Smith has been a member of the Ryedale Field Naturalists for over 35 years, serving on the committee since 1967. He is an expert in many fields, and conitnues to write for our Newsletter. In recent issues we have had articles on the fungus records of Willis Bramley, several articles on local lichens, an article on The Arcadian Calendar and a piece on biodiversity which highlighted the increasing use of computers in record-keeping, another of Don’s special interests. He has been variously our Recorder for insects, lichens and fungi, led many outdoor field meetings and given a number of illustrated talks to the society which have included Hidden World, Pond Life, Insect Life, Lichens of Walls and Woodland, Garden Safari and many others.

He has been also been the leading technocrat of the society via his role as projectionist and particularly in the field of computerisation, starting with moving Ryedale’s records to a Sinclair in 1983! This job is almost complete now, with the records stored on a modern PC and some of the lists available on the internet.

Don has provided us with the following notes and photo, which we are delighted to reproduce.

Don, born 1927, started work as an assistant path lab technician at Beverley Base Hospital. There, plating for bacterial identification and performing blood counts were all part of the day’s work. Then followed many years of industrial laboratory work, culminating in the post of senior analytical chemist in the paint industry.

After two years at St. John’s College in York, he commenced teaching at secondary level, taking physics, maths and general science together with metalwork and woodwork. Early retirement saw a number of self employed jobs – printing, trade watch & clock repairing and trade picture framing.

An interest in insects arose in his late teens and he became recorder for the Hull Naturalists’ Club and a Mensa member in the 1950s. He is now a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society arising from his work at the British Museum of Natural History when he conveyed many collections to the Hull Museum to partially replace those lost during the wartime air-raids. Don has conducted insect surveys of many of the Y.W.T. nature reserves and has served on the management committees of Bridestones, Burton Riggs, Fen Bog and Jeffry Bog and as chairman of Ellerburn Bank NR.

However, some 18 years ago, Don’s interests turned to lichens and he is currently Upland England churchyard lichen survey coordinator for the British Lichen Society of which he is a life member. He has managed to survey over 1500 churchyards from north Lincolnshire northward to southern Scotland and from the North Yorkshire coast west to Lancashire. Lichen surveys of Yorkshire castles and abbeys were undertaken for English Heritage, various surveys for English Nature including Forge Valley and Duncombe Park and various woodland sites for Forest Enterprise.

In all of this, on arriving in Kirkbymoorside some 35 years ago, Don has found time to serve as secretary, treasurer or chairman of the Kirkbymoorside Sportsfield Committee, the Camera Club, Civic Society, Traders’ Association, Vice-chairman of the Town Council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust council member. Only last year Don stepped down as treasurer of the Y.W.T. Moors and Vales area committee.

The only office work Don now undertakes is as a trustee and secretary of Yorkshire Field Studies Trust which provides cash grants to school pupils to further their Biology or Geography studies. Don has left in our Society’s safe keeping the results of a huge undertaking in the form of the collected records of all biological organisms recorded within the Society’s borders – over 6,000 different species collated after examining some 15,000 records.

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