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Farewell to honorary librarian Ian Shepherd, 1929-2012

Ian Shepherd in the SCI library

26 Feb 2013

SCI members and staff were saddened to hear that our honorary librarian, Ian Shepherd, died in March 2012. After spending his career as a chemist, Ian chose to spend his retirement with us. He would look after the library for a day or two a week, only finally saying goodbye in December 2010, aged over 80.

A northerner by birth, Ian attended Manchester Grammar School, and went on to read chemistry at Manchester University. He trained as a chemical engineer and worked for Brooke Bond for many years. He played an important role in the invention of instant tea, though his own supplies indicated a private life as a tea connoisseur. His work took him all over the world, including a long stay as a tea planter in Kenya. This was a formative part of his life and career, and he told stories about Kenya until the day he died.

When Johnson Mathey took over Brooke Bond he continued to work for them, travelling the short distance from his home in Henley to Sonning Common.

Ian was not short of interests. He had enjoyed shooting in Kenya, becoming a full-bore champion and became the Hon Sec of the Oxfordshire Rifle Association, holding both Silver and Gold awards for distinguished service to target shooting. He also stayed loyal to his old school, and was active in organising reunions. Well into his seventies he was taken on a sailing trip, and announced afterwards, with his customary good humour, that he had capsized.

Ian first joined SCI in 1955, and after 'retiring,' he volunteered for the Society, becoming Honorary Librarian in 1990. His historical knowledge of SCI and the chemical industry was second to none, as anyone who sought his help can confirm. He was the obvious person to turn to when we needed a history of SCI for the website, and he uncovered much source material for the Notable Chemists page. SCI held his services in high esteem, giving him the Distinguished Service Award in 2002.

Ian enjoyed his trips to Belgrave Square, once rather touchingly telling everyone at a staff meeting how much his visits meant to him, and how much he enjoyed our company.

He only finally retired when ill health caught up with him, and even then SCI was not far from his thoughts. As our executive director Joanne Lyall 2010-13 notes, 'Ian kindly left a legacy of £1,000 to SCI and we look forward to using this to enhance the library in a way which can provide lasting recognition of his dedicated service as our Hon Librarian.'

Ian was at heart a gentle, old-fashioned northern bachelor, never seen without blazer or sports jacket, sometimes taking a pinch of snuff, and often with a bow-tie. Nobody ever heard him say an unkind word, and he is greatly missed by those who knew him.

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