St David’s Day dinner

Saturday 29 February 2020

This was the year that the wall came down! The Mortonhall Golf Club had to remove a partition to make room for our 50 members and friends, and the spaciousness was very welcome after the crush at the bar. Part of the reason for the larger numbers was that we were delighted to welcome family supporters from all over the country – as our President, David Hughes, reminded us at the start of the proceedings, during 2019 we had lost three Society stalwarts, Arthur Phillips, Stephanie Ledger and Keith Welsher.


After Grace (said by Margaret Brandie) and an excellent meal, David Hughes introduced our Gwr Gwadd, Professor Wayne Powell, who is Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). We learned of Wayne’s early days in the mining community at Abercraf, of his studies in Aberystwyth (where he played a lot of rugby!), and his first career teaching PE and maths in Reading (plus playing for London Welsh), before a switch of discipline to work with the Welsh Plant Breeding Station back in Aberystwyth.

Thereafter Wayne’s new career took off, with “memories of a great time” in 1980s Edinburgh, followed by a seminal year in Delaware, at the cutting edge of molecular biology and experiencing the open culture of US science at DuPont’s Wilmington facility. His moves thereafter gave him time in Cambridge and Adelaide, experience in managing change both personally and in institutions, and an enduring sense of the importance of food and of the great privilege of being able to use science to deliver practical benefits for agriculture and for rural economies throughout the world.

In his vote of thanks, Colin Mumford asked how any of us could match a life experience that included responsibility for a School of Wine (known enviously as the ‘School of the Good Life’) and offered mischievous suggestions as how improvements to grasses might aid our players!

David Hughes then thanked everyone for their contribution to the evening, and presented flowers to Jennifer Welsher, our Secretary and dinner organiser. Finally, as always, Jim Hughes and his friends led us in singing some favourite hymns and songs before “Mae hen wlad fy nhadau” concluded the evening.