AGM & Freda Draper tribute
Chaired by Peter Riley, office holders took members through the reports and accounts of the society. Membership and finances remain healthy. Finances include a generous gift of £2000 from the son of the late founder member Dorothy Marjoram. The increasing use of email has also reduced expenditure on postage. The work of society in supporting conservation projects continues with a speaker on climate change envisaged during the next winter programme. All members of the existing committee were re-elected unopposed.
Freda Draper, a trained and brilliant photographer, joined WNS in 1957. A former president, she remained a life-long member. Her obituary in the 2016 Review acknowledges her as the best all- round naturalist the society has ever had, though her first love was botany and she came to have a special interest in fungi. Tonight, Professor Mile Dixon paid his own special tribute. Mike has digitalised Freda’s many fungi slides and wove a selection of these into the most instructive and fascinating talk on this “Quirkiest Kingdom on Earth”. The part of the fungus we see is the fruiting part. The real fungus (often unseen) is the mycelium, through which a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment. These nutrients are then passed on to trees and other plants in mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships. Then there are saprophytic fungi which break down and feed on dead matter. Parasitic fungi, on the contrary, feed on live matter and thus kill it.
The audience were wowed by the wonderful colours of the different fungi to say nothing of some amazing names: Elfin saddle, Freckled Dapperling, Shaggy inkcap, Hairy curtain crust and Common stinkhorn whose scientific name (phallus impudicus) caused Victorian ladies to have the vapours!