ARS Victoria Newsletter – December 2018

  • Date: 30th November 2018

PASSING OF SIMON BEGG

The Society is saddened at the passing of Simon Begg, one of its most esteemed members. Simon joined the Society in 1992, and served on the ARSV Committee for 18 years from 2000 to 2018. He took on the role of newsletter editor from 2013 to 2016.

He singlehandedly shifted the culture in the society away from collections being tightly held, to a higher purpose of making species and hybrids available to anyone interested in them, thus making a lasting contribution to safeguarding many species and hybrids in Australia. As an exhibitor he collected innumerable prizes and trophies, keeping rhododendrons in the public gaze.

Simon donated dozens of plants to the vireya species collection at the DRBG, including the only R. goodenoughii that could be tracked down in Australia. One of his outstanding contributions has been his engagement with AQIS in rationalising and expanding the list of Rhododendron seed permitted for importation. Simon and Marcia travelled extensively, representing our Society at conferences in Europe, NZ and America, along the way developing enduring friendships around the world.

However, possibly his greatest legacy is the ‘North Queensland project’. Simon was the driving force behind the recollection of R. viriosum and R. lochiae. Simon developed the relationship with the Australian Tropical Herbarium (ATH), helped secure philanthropic funding for ATH to establish a project, and made a personal financial contribution towards the project. During 2016-2017, the ATH led a series or expeditions to North Queensland, including a week-long trip in September 2016 when Simon and Marcia, along with seven other Society members, visited many rhododendron populations in North Queensland. Simon and Marcia’s dedication to the trip was apparent when they decided to drive with their caravan from Melbourne to Cairns, a return trip of nearly 6,000km.

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