In Richard Hodgkinson's case you would be right to say that he plays bowls more often after retiring in the late 1990s from his position as the Collections Manager of the Micropalaeontology Collections. Richard does far more than this of course and one day a week he helps to curate the micropalaeontology collections here at the Museum as a Scientific Associate in the Department of Palaeontology.
Richard's entire career was spent curating the micropalaeontology collections here and his handwriting can be recognised in many of the registers where details about our specimens are recorded. Richard's knowledge of the collections at the Museum is second to none so he is currently helping us by adding information about the people who donated, published and collected the specimens we hold.
This is very important because the Museum recently implemented a computerised database that includes data from all departments (Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology, Zoology). When the data was all added to a single database there were many problems because previously there had been a lot of duplication of effort. For example my name appeared as "C. G. Miller, C. Giles Miller, Dr G. Miller, Mr C. Giles Miller" and many other variants when we came to look at the data when it was all amalgamated from various sources.
Richard's work has been to investigate the history of some of the people associated with the Foraminiferal Collections by adding dates of birth/death, full names, information about where they worked and any other information that Richard can add from his vast knowledge and experience. Our collection holds a lot of significant historical information. An example of the type of related historical information hidden in our collections can be found in this interesting article that was published in the Daily Telegraph this week about one of our most famous donors Charles Davies Sherborn. Sherborn described himself as a "magpie with a card index mind" and once built a mock volcano in his back garden!
Fortesque William Millett (1833-1915) whose microfossil collections are now at the Natural History Museum was the subject of a scientific article by Richard Hodgkinson.
You would imagine that this only helps me as Micropalaeontology Curator but you would be wrong there. Many of the people associated with our foraminiferal collections, like Sherborn, also collected other fossil groups or other natural historical items like mineralogical, botanical, zoological or entomological specimens. The details that Richard has added to records are shared by the whole Museum so it will be easier for curators in all parts of the Museum to identify which are the correct records in the database to use. It will also help with identifying which records to keep when we begin to start the difficult process of amalgamating some of the duplicated records.
Each year, retired members of staff make very valuable contributions to the running of the science departments behind the scenes at the Museum. Richard Hodgkinson is no exception and his help is very gratefully received.