Internationally renowned botanist from Suffolk, Bill Sykes, has died aged 90
- Credit: Archant
A renowned botanist from Suffolk who became a leading mind in the study of flora worldwide has died at the age of 90.
Bill Sykes, who was born in Suffolk but lived in Christchurch, New Zealand, died at the Nurse Maude Hospice in Christchurch on January 5.
The celebrated plant-lover trained at the seed nursery Thompson and Morgan in Ipswich, after being inspired into the industry during a primary school competition to collect and record wild flowers and plants.
He carried out expeditions in the Himalayas in the 1950s, representing the Royal Horticultural Society to collect specimens for the British Museum, before moving to New Zealand in 1961 to join the Botany Division of the then-named Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
His expertise was included in several books, as well as being a contributing editor of the Flora of New Zealand online journal.
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Hie work was recognised when he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
A number of species are also named in his honour.
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Paul Masters, head of horticulture at Thompson and Morgan said: “Whilst we have a number of long-serving employees at Thompson & Morgan, none of them were here when Bill was!
“We were thrilled to discover the piece about his long and adventurous life after his horticultural training at T&M here in Ipswich.
“The company is very proud of its expert horticultural tradition and is currently in discussion with the Royal Horticultural Society regarding the development of a joint apprenticeship scheme.”
A funeral service was held on January 9 at the John Rhind Chapel in Christchurch, and is survived by his wife Peggy Kelly, son Julian, daughter Claire, step-children Katrinka, Justin and Louise, and grand-daughter Amelia.
Speaking to New Zealand’s The Press, Julian Sykes said: “Dad was very much into adventure and we had a lot of fun together, he was keen for us to get out there and explore and experience different things.
“He was very mindful of other people’s feelings and points of view, he was a great moderator.
“It was very good for us in terms of building relationships.”