As Head of Centre at FSC Preston Montford, Martha was something of an institution when I started as Head of Centre in 1994. She informed me she had led courses for the FSC for over 17 years and I had no reason to doubt this. She knew which sites she wanted to use – irrespective of permission or access, which species she wanted to find (a minimum of 40 per day) and how many hours she would spend after supper in the lab identifying them!
Despite this rather tyrannical approach to students learning and complete disregard for the need for breaks or ice cream, a rest before supper or a drink at the bar – participants loved her and came back for more. She really cared if they learned their mosses, delighted in demonstrating field identification tips and developed a stamina in us all through her tireless dedication.
I did once enlist the help of her regular course attendees in spacing our field visits, coming back in plenty of time and even at one time provided a driver – none of these strategies really worked – but through our exhaustion, somehow we learnt, took joy in leaf shapes, venation and microscopy and were nurtured by Martha into furthering our love of bryology. Although she has been off the teaching circuit for a while – her influence and networks live on and she is already missed.Sue Townsend, Biodiversity Learning Manager at FSC