Tag Archives: The Entomological Club

The Verrall Supper 2017 – entomologists eating, drinking and getting very merry

The Rembrandt Hotel in South Kensington and the first Wednesday of March mean only one thing to many UK entomologists – the Verrall Supper. I have written about the Verrall Supper previously on more than one occasion, so this will, once again, be largely a photographic record.  This year the first Wednesday of March was March 1st and this seemed to have caught a few Verrallers by surprise.  Consequently, numbers were slightly down compared with last year’s record, but the number of non-attending Verrallers paying to retain their membership was at an all-time high.  One notable absence was the former Verrall Secretary, Helmut van Emden who due to mobility problems was unable to attend, only the second one that he has missed in 50 years!

On a very sad note, we reported the deaths of two long-time members of the Association, Gerry Tremewan (long time editor of The Entomologist and the Entomologist’s Gazette, and Bernard Skinner, author of that magnificent book,  Moths of the British Isles.

More positively, we were slightly up on female entomologist this year, 30% compared with last year’s 29%.  There is still much progress to be made, but we have seen a year on year increase now for the last four years so, perhaps one day we will hit that magic 50:50 mark.

Our entomologist in Holy Orders, the Reverend Dr David Agassiz, was unable to attend this year, so instead of the usual entomological grace, I performed a humanist blessing, which seemed to meet with satisfaction from all sides.  I reproduce it here if anyone feels like using it at a similar occasion.

As we come together at this special time, let us pause a moment to appreciate the opportunity for good company and to thank all those past and present whose efforts have made this event possible. As we go through life, the most important thing that we can collect is good memories.  Thank you for all being here today to share this meal as a treasured part of this collection.

And now to let the pictures tell the story.

Chris Lyal and Clive Farrell of the Entomological Club – “helping” at the registration desk

Three very illustrious (or should that be shiny) entomologists – Jeremy Thomas, Charles Godfray and Dick Vane-Wright

Richard Harrington and the winner of the Van Emden Bursary, PhD student Ellen Moss

Two of the more venerable Verrallers – Trevor Lewis and Marion Gratwick

Many Verrallers are young and quite a few are female 🙂

Adriana De Palma making a fuss about Erica McAlister’s new book 🙂

Some older entomologists enjoying the food and drink

The younger entomologists also had excellent appetites

The President of the Royal Entomological Society, Mike Hassell, wishes you all good health and happiness

Beards still feature among the younger end of the male Verrallers, although sadly it is no longer mandatory 🙂

And a bit of entomological bling to bring the show to an end 🙂

Many thanks to all who attended and I hope to see you all again next year, plus many new faces.

 

 

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The Verrall Supper 2014 – Moving into the 21st Century?

 

Last year with a certain degree of trepidation I organised The Verrall Supper for the first time on my own!   For those of you not in the know, I am a member of The Entomological Club (http://entomologicalclub.org/), the oldest entomological society in the world.  I am also, despite the grey beard, the youngest member of the Entomological Club, and more stressfully, have the job of being Secretary for the Verrall Association of Entomologists.   As the Verrall Secretary I have to organise the annual Verrall Supper http://entomologicalclub.org/page8.html .  The object of the Verrall Association of Entomologists is to continue the tradition of an annual supper of entomologists begun in 1987 by the late Mr G. H. Verrall as the Annual Entomological Club Supper. This is a chance for amateur and professional entomologists to meet once a year at a social gathering to exchange ideas, make new friends and meet old ones.  To say that it was a very traditional event, even old-fashioned is perhaps an understatement.  Women were not invited to the supper until 1962 and there has been only one female member of the Entomological Club to date, the late great Dame Miriam Rothschild.  Until recently, dress for the event was formal, a lounge suit; a prerequisite that prevented me attending for several years, since I have not owned  a suit since my first wedding in 1977 (although I did wear a hired suit for my eldest daughter’s wedding eleven years ago in Sydney; hired by her I might add).   I finally accepted an invitation to attend the Verrall Supper some twenty years ago and compromised my standards somewhat by replacing my jeans for smart trousers and my desert boots with shiny shoes.

All that said, I don’t want you to get the impression that the Verrall Supper was, or is, a stuffy event.  Get a large number of entomologists together with a supply of alcohol and good food and you are guaranteed to have a good time, even if over half the guests are well past their prime.  Given my famed lack of sartorial elegance, it was somewhat of a surprise when I was admitted as a member of The

   Michale Way and me

Me with the late great Michael Way (my sponsor for the Entomological Club).

 Entomological Club in 2011 and given my transgressions against the Verrall dress code (I accidentally turned up in jeans one year), it was an even greater shock to be chosen to succeed  “Van”  as Professor Helmut van Emden is known to entomologists all over the World, as the Verrall Secretary.

The reason that I find organizing the Verrall Supper more stressful than you might expect is that the former Verrall Secretary, Van, organized the event for forty years, yes 40 years!   He thus, understandably, has a somewhat proprietorial interest in how it is run under its new management.  Those of you interested in knowing how my first year went can find an account in Leather (2013).  I had added to the stress quotient by making a number of changes to the event, first by changing the venue from Imperial College to the Rembrandt Hotel, just opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum , second by changing the ticketing system, thirdly by altering the seating allocation method and  introducing round tables and finally by changing the dress requirement from lounge suits to smart casual (before I became a member of the Entomological Club, I had already started to subvert this rule, not actually owning a suit of my own anyway).   I am told that the evening was a great success; I was too stressed to really notice but certainly the emails that I received after the event put my mind at ease.

This year I introduced yet another change, email invitations and renewals.  Last year we collected as many email addresses as possible, well Clive Farrell actually did the collecting, but it was a joint decision. Despite a few ‘undeliverables’ the email booking system worked remarkably well and 185 entomologists ranging in age from 21 to well over 80 turned up at the Rembrandt Hotel on March 5th  where they were greeted by the ever-dependable Clive Farrell and one of my ex-PhD students, Dr Jennifer Banfield-Zanin, whom had met me earlier in

Jen & Clive

Jennifer Banfield-Zanin and Clive Farrell attempt to keep track of the attendees

the day to discuss some papers were are writing and found herself co-opted to collect money from those members without cheque books.  I should point out that people pay a subscription to join the Verrall Association of Entomologists, not to pay for the dinner.  The dinner, which comes with wine (another new innovation), is part of the membership package.  The subscription is traditionally not fixed, rather, an amount is suggested, with the expectation that most will pay it and that a significant number will generously exceed it and thus enable the less well-off to attend without undue hardship.  This is a tradition that I fully support, although I fear that not enough of the newer well-salaried members are aware of this expectation.  This year we had 46 female members including Marion Gratwick who was one of the first ever women to attend the Verrall Supper.  My aim next year is to try to get to an even sex ratio.  It was nice to see so many of my ex-students, PhD and MSc plus lots of Tweeters.

I leave you with assorted scenes of revelry and intrigue!

Mike Claridge and Ward Cooper

Ward Cooper and Professor Mike Claridge – discussing a future book deal?

Ashleigh & Craig

Ashleigh Whiffin and Craig Perl – two of the first Harper Adams University MSc Entomology graduates, now at Edinburgh and Sussex respectively.

Charles Godfray & Keith Bland

Charles Godfray & Keith Bland – Keith taking advantage of the relaxed dress code!

Ex-students table

Everyone facing the camera at this table is an ex-student of mine!

Mini-beast Mayhem and co

None of these are ex-students of mine!  Also proof that not all entomologists are male or old.

Flic and Fran and Carly

Chatting about Collembola?  Flic Crotty & Fran Sconce deep in conversation.

Gia and Tilly

Gia Aradottir and Tilly Collins

Tilly was my first Giant Willow Aphid PhD student and then was co-supervisor with me of Gia, who was my latest Giant Willow Aphid PhD student and we still don’t know where it goes in the winter!

Helen Roy, Gordon Port and John Whittaker

Helen Roy, Gordon Port and John Whittaker.  A shared interest in aphids and ladybirds.

Top Table 2

One half of the Top Table – Van, Gill van Emden, Chris Lyal, Richard Lane and Mike Siva-Jothy

Top Table 1

Top Table – without The Verrall Secretary; conspicuous by his absence – he must be taking photos 😉

Minin Beast at table

@MiniBeastMayhem (centre stage) enjoying her first ever Verrall with among others, @MadAboutCaddis, and @Nyctibiidae

The Logan Team

James Logan and team – trying to drink the bar dry despite London prices!

Charlotte & Joe

Charlotte Rowley & Joe Roberts (Harper Adams University PhD students)

Ailsa McLean

This makes me feel old – Dr Ailsa McLean – her Dad and I were PhD students together and I can remember her in her pram!

The Bar

Entomologists at the bar!

Happy Diners

Happy Diners – including Hugh Loxdale and Helen Roy

I hope that this fairly random assortment of pictures gives you some flavour of the evening and also highlights the fact that the Verrall Supper is no longer entirely populated by old grey-bearded entomologists, although of course there are still some of us left 😉

Leather, S.R. (2013) The Verrall Supper 2013 – New organiser – New venue.  Antenna, 37, 138-139

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