Dave Emley awarded British Empire Medal

Dave Emley
Posted on 31 December 2016

Dave Emley, a former geology technician at Keele, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list for services to higher education and natural history.

Dave took a keen interest in the Keele estate over the four decades that he worked at the University, and in 2000 came up with the idea to turn the campus into an arboretum. At the time, Keele had a large collection of trees but they were not greatly appreciated; Dave’s determination, passion and tireless work changed all that.

The campus now has 3,385 trees that are professionally labelled and mapped, and another 450 catalogued with GPS coordinates. Almost all of the physical work to achieve this was done by Dave. This database of tree information has underpinned student practical classes, academic research projects and outreach activities across the institution.

To support the Arboretum, Dave created a series of woodland walks around the campus, and even designed and built a website for the collection that lists and maps all the trees, as well as including more general background on the flora and fauna on campus. Dave was also instrumental in setting up a formal National Collection of Flowering Cherries on the Keele campus, which now boasts more than 280 varieties, making it the biggest collection in the United Kingdom.

However, the most selfless thing about his involvement is that none of this is part of his job description. Dave has achieved everything by getting into work early every day for the past
two decades and using nearly every lunch hour, and undoubtedly many evenings, to
tirelessly make his vision a reality.

Dave’s hard work has created a campus that is welcoming to visitors, with people travelling from miles around to explore the woodland walks that he created. Furthermore, visitors from as far afield as Japan have visited the Keele campus to view the collection of cherries, and tens of thousands more have visited the website.

Propagation material from the arboretum has been sent to at least seven European nurseries and Botanic Gardens (including Kew) and Japanese researchers have collected material for genetic research on cherries, highlighting the global impact of Dave’s work.

Dave’s vast expertise is illustrated by the publication of four books, the most recent of which - Natural History of Keele University - was published in 2016.

Dave has also made a huge voluntary contribution to natural history in Staffordshire, including prominent roles with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. His commitment, dedication and determination for the University and local region to celebrate its natural flora and fauna continues to be an inspiration to colleagues and students.