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Medicinal Plants and Many People

Dr. Sarah Edwards © Ben AllenDr. Sarah Edwards © Ben AllenAs I jogged to the train station I wondered (along with whether I would get there on time) what the person behind all the friendly and punctual emails whizzing to and fro whilst organising this talk would be like. When I jumped down the last of the steps onto the platform I was greeted by a sprightly lady, dressed as brightly as her smile. Dr. Sarah Edwards had come all the way from Royal Botanic Kew Gardens to Bangor University to give a talk on Medicinal Plants, which I was greatly looking forward to. Her biography is a tantalising myriad of varied and intriguing jobs – ethnobotanist, medical plant researcher, medical anthropologist, co-author of a herbal remedies book, lecturer on medicinal plants at Oxford University, freelance worker for many different worthy organisations including one for Australian Aborigines… to name but a fraction of her occupations.

She was whisked off to Treborth by Nigel Brown, the curator, for a quick tour before giving her talk. Meanwhile I press-ganged a friend into helping me lay out refreshments in the foyer, and later directed early birds to the right room. As I headed to the talk myself the butterflies in my tummy competed for attention; half for how many people would turn up and the others for introducing Sarah. So it was with relieved elation I opened the door and saw a sea of people – more than a hundred were waiting expectantly for Sarah’s talk. Unfortunately that meant more people to talk in front of – but thanks to Sarah’s amazing biography I was not stuck for things to say in praise of her.

Lecture Hall © Ben AllenLecture Hall © Ben AllenThe talk was brilliant, hitting every tick-box: passionate, informed, interesting, varied, right level of complexity, well structured, many examples from around the world – with a focus on China. It certainly warranted the excellent turn-out.

The foyer buzzed with conversation afterwards as groups of people munched on food and jostled to talk with each other and especially Sarah. Animated conversations were had all round for nigh on an hour after the talk. As the crowd thinned a group of us slipped away and headed into Bangor to have a meal with Sarah – or rather, in the light of the event, a celebratory banquet.

Publication date: 26 April 2015

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