Desmond Meikle OBE and a Prison Competition

Thanks to the quiet legacy of Desmond Meikle of Kew Gardens and Wootton Courtenay, people in prisons have been able to achieve a great deal in this turbulent year of Covid–19. Thousands of prisoners and detainees have created and entered artistic work in the competitive Koestler Awards, despite lockdown restrictions in secure settings. In the words of one 2021 entrant, “The Koestler Awards are the highlight of my year. Thank you for your time, encouragement and support, you’ve made my time in prison more bearable.”

The Desmond Meikle Award now features in the Koestler Awards, which are also supported by Mrs Jeanne Webb of Old Cleeve, a botanist and a friend of Desmond.

The Winner of the 2021 Meikle Award is ‘Delicate Flowers’. Stephen at HM Prison Isle of Wight (Albany) made ‘Delicate Flowers’ whilst living under lockdown, which, for many prisoners and detainees, has meant 23 hours a day locked in a cell. Desmond would have much appreciated Stephen’s artistry, his unusual treatment of the subject, and his botanical accuracy. Stephen’s success now allows him a lifeline to the outside world, and a way to kindle his creativity and to grow his confidence.

A copy of ‘Delicate Flowers’ is attached here:

Double-click to open the PDF and under View, Zoom down to 66.67%.

Any questions or comments on the winning entry can be sent to Mrs Webb, who will be happy to respond to questions, and will kindly arrange for the Koestler Awards to forward any comments to prisoner Stephen.

Many villagers will remember Desmond Meikle OBE for his gentlemanly wit, erudition, humour and modesty. Given that modesty, it seems doubtful that we could have appreciated fully his extraordinary scientific endeavour and success. The following link to a Russian Academy of Sciences publication will enhance that appreciation:
Once there, go to Current Issue, then Memorabilia and these headings:

Scientific Heritage of Robert Desmond Meikle (1923 – 2021)
An Appreciation of Desmond Meikle, botanist, teacher and friend

PS. The Somerset Wildlife Trust were most grateful for the donation from Desmond’s memorial luncheon last August: the funds will be used to provide more trees and plants to increase biodiversity in the county.

Roger Carrick