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William (Bill) Yuill, 1930-2005

Bill Yuill, who died on 2 October 2005, was someone who throughout his long career at Mackay & Schnellmann, the London based mining consultants, epitomised the importance of professionalism combined with pragmatism that is required in the industry.

He was born on 20 January 1930 in Falkirk and went to Falkirk High School. He studied geology at Glasgow University. On graduation, Mackay & Schnellmann recruited him to work for the Siamese Tin Company at Leadhills. This was interrupted by National Service. He was drafted into the Royal Artillery as a gunner. But his potential was noticed and he was sent to officer training, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant, in the Royal Engineers. Indeed, later, Bill served in the voluntary, Engineer & Logistics Staff Corps of the Royal Engineers rising to rank of full Colonel.

On being demobbed, Bill rejoined Mackay & Schnellmann, where he stayed for the rest of his career, becoming the Managing Director in 1965. He consulted on projects all over the world, especially in Africa, but also in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. The company worked predominantly on metallic and industrial mineral projects and mines, from iron ore to gold, and from sand and gravel to phosphate. With Bill at the helm the company gave many young geologists their first job and provided an opportunity for senior professionals to continue to contribute their experience and judgement to the industry. On retiring from Mackay & Schnellmann, he became an independent technical reviewer of mining company prospectuses for the London Stock Exchange.

Bill believed in the mining industry as a community and the need for a professional body to serve that community for the wider public good. He served on many IMM committees, eventually becoming President in 1985. Typically of Bill his presidential address was titled The Importance of Being Small. In the conclusion to his address he stated, “I believe, strongly, that small deposits, mines and companies have always been the backbone of the minerals industry and that it is from these that the larger deposits, mines and companies have developed and should continue to develop.”
He was a very amiable person and for many Mackay & Schnellmann was like a club. Not an exclusive one but somewhere mining people, visiting London on leave or business, would drop in. Out of this social side, there was founded the monthly evening session in London, the famous “Last Wednesday”, which now continues as “the Mining Sundowner” on the last Thursday.

This interest in individuals was mirrored by his involvement with the Institute of Mining & Metals (IMM, now IMMM). As his work on the professional issues lessened he served on the management committee of the IMM Benevolent Fund, the IMMBF. Bill took over as Honorary Secretary of the Fund, in 1994 and continued until the successful merger with the Member's Trust of the IoM. Bill visited all new applicants for assistance often at long distances from his home. His wide overseas experience and knowledge of overseas members was invaluable to the Fund and thus to its overseas beneficiaries. There are many beneficiaries who have cause to thank Bill for his care and interest in their welfare

He leaves a wife, Rena, whom he met at Falkirk High School, and two sons, David and Gordon and their families.

Gavin Bowyer. Reprinted with permission of the IMMM