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Hasta la victoria siempre!

Rick Brassington and the plaque, Lecture Theatre, burlington House

Dawne Riddle, at President's Day 2008, witnesses the unveiling of a plaque commemorating a revolutionary period in the development of the modern Geological Society.

Geoscientist 18.8 August 2008

President's Day 2008, commemorating our Bicentenary Year 2007, was a fitting moment to unveil a plaque in the Lecture Theatre dedicated to a piece of history that was, many feared, in danger of being overlooked amid the celebrations of Bicentenary Year (Geoscientist 18.5, p3). A small group gathered around a plaque and the framed IG Jewel close to the lectern in the Lecture Theatre, just before the celebrations recommenced after lunch. Richard Fortey, in one of his last acts as President, said:

"As we look back on the successes of Bicentenary Year it is appropriate to remember one of the biggest changes – if not the biggest change – to affect the Society in its second century: namely, our unification with the Institution of Geologists in 1991. Now that professionalism constitutes so much a part of the Society’s day-to-day activity, with the postnominal CGeol firmly established as a benchmark of excellence in the practice of our science and the aspirational grade for all our Fellows, it is hard indeed to comprehend quite what a revolution all this seemed back in the 1970s and 80s.

"So many of the things we now take for granted as part of the Society’s services to Fellows – chartership, degree course accreditation, the regional group system, the Aberconway Medal and our magazine Geoscientist - all these things and more began life as part of the activities of the IG and its predecessors; especially APIPG.
Rick Brassington
"After IG had been established, John Shanklin and Richard Fox played a major role in establishing the European Federation of Geologists, and obtaining the Eur. Geol. professional qualification. APIPG published A Draft Code of Professional Conduct in June 1976. The Geologist’s Directory, now an independently produced publication, was also an IG innovation, whose first edition was largely driven by Rick Brassington.

"In grateful recognition of the IG and its predecessor bodies, and of all that unification has brought to the Society we know and love today, I ask you please to raise your glasses and drink to – the Institution of Geologists."

Rick Brassington, whose Soapbox piece foreshadowed the unveiling, replied - and made us realise that many in the Society remain hungry for reform.

He thanked the Society for responding so enthusiastically to his suggestion with this "very fitting commemoration of both the Institution and its predecessor APIPG. He went on: "To me the act of erecting this plaque is an important milestone in the reunification process. It also commemorates the Society’s establishment of the Chartered Geologist qualification – the only qualification for professional geologists in our country.

Too many professors

"You may be surprised to learn that I do not consider reunification to be complete after more than 18 years. That is because two important things have not yet happened. These relate to the structure of Council and the promotion of the Chartered Geologist qualification."

Rick Brassington called for greater representation on Council of non-academic geologists, and for more strenuous promotion of the CGeol qualification, and concluded: "I hope that at the next meeting of Council [our new] President will review the situation and look at ways that the Bye Laws and Regulations can be revised to change the structure of Council - to make it representative of the Fellowship. He also urged the new Council "to make the Society’s own professional qualification meaningful" and urged the Society "to fully undertake its role as the regulator of the geological profession by requiring that all Fellows who work as professionals become Chartered Geologists."

Brassington finished by evoking the names of those who were not able to be present. "Most notable among those is Professor Sir John Knill …without whom IG would never have been born; but the list also includes John Shanklin, who is unwell, Bob Cummings, the first IG President, Dan Ion, first recipient of the Aberconway Medal and third IG President and Colin Dixon who served on the committee of APIPG and on the IG council and worked tirelessly for their objectives over many years. The list also includes past Presidents of the Society who were strong supporters of the Institution such as Sir Peter Kent – a Founding Fellow of IG - Wally Pitcher – a member of the APIPG committee and an Aberconway Medallist and Sir Kingsley Dunham – a Founding Fellow of IG and an Aberconway Medallist. On behalf of them all, thank you very much."
  • You can read more about the IG's history and that of the Aberconway Medal on the website. See the web version of this story for links.
  • "Hasta la victoria siempre" was the signoff used by Ernesto "Ché" Guevara in the last letter he wrote to Fidel Castro. It translates as "Forever, until victory". Shortly after writing the letter, Guevara was captured and executed by CIA Agent Félix Rodriguez.
  • The Citations and replies of the Awardists will be published later in the year as a special Geoscientist supplement.