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John Kenneth Shanklin 1926 2017

xfdgjPioneer of professional accreditation for geologists in the UK, co-founder of IG and EFG.

John Shanklin was born on 28 July 1926 and grew up at 22 Osborne Road in Birkenhead, then in Cheshire, where his father William Percy Shanklin was a shipping clerk working in the Liver Building across the Mersey in Liverpool.

In March 1944 aged 17, he volunteered for the Royal Navy and after war service went to Liverpool University to study geology in 1948.  At university, he met fellow student Merryl Cotgrave whom he married after graduating (1952).  His first job was with the National Coal Board and after a couple of years, he moved to Sir Alfred McAlpine & Son, first as Geologist and later Chief Geologist, where his main duties were to find sand and gravel for roadbuilding, and other sources of stone.  When motorway construction started in the late 1950s he quickly developed the skill of finding quarries on the motorway trace, a trick that avoided McAlpine vehicles going on the road so they could use untaxed diesel (thereby increasing profits).  He also negotiated for McAlpine to buy Hendre limestone quarry, Penrhyn slate quarry and the sand and gravel quarry at Borras, near Wrexham where he was based for the rest of his working life.

He joined the Liverpool Geological Society in 1947 and was awarded its Silver Medal in both 1972 and 1994. Both he and Merryl were enthusiastic supporters of its meetings and were regular attendees on fieldtrips throughout their lives.

John was elected Fellow of the Geological Society on 14 May 1952.  In 1971, Council sent a questionnaire to Fellows on a professional qualification for geologists, establishing a working party chaired by Professor John Knill who co-opted John Shanklin and others. John remained involved with the Institution of Geologists until reunification with GSL in 1991, serving as Chairman of Council (1980–82) and President (1988-91). After reunification John continued his interest in furthering the profession by successfully standing twice for election to Council (serving 1991-94 and 1995-98).

John was one of a group of geologists from Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain who established the European Federation of Geologists in 1980.  John became its first President.  EFG recognised its huge debt by awarding him the first Honorary European Geologist title and medal in December 2002.  In 1989, he met Bill Knight, Executive Director of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), which led to a growing relationship between EFG and AIPG; culminating (1998) in the establishment of reciprocal associate membership. In 1993 AIPG awarded John Honorary Membership - a rare honour for a foreigner.

The family moved to Dodleston near Chester in 1964, where he served as Chairman of Dodleston Parish Council (32 years), Vice-chairman of Dodleston Village Foundation (over 20 years), and was a Governor at Dodleston Primary School.  He also served as a Cheshire County Councillor for many years and was a Governor at King’s School, Chester (1990-2009).

His last few years were marred by type-2 diabetes and, over the last five years, blindness. He died in hospital on 4 May 2017 aged 90.  Merryl died in 1981.  He is survived by his three children, Jonathan, Simon and Liz as well as Simon’s children Sandy, Pip and Tori.

By Rick Brassington & Richard Fox

A longer version of this obituary may be read here