18 September 2010

Richard Livsey (1935-2010)

It was with great sadness that the Beagle Project learned that Richard Livsey CBE died Wednesday. He was not only a Lib Dem MP for Brecon and Radnorshire for 11 years, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems and, in more recent years, Peer, but also the Beagle Project's first patron.

In his quiet but determined way he did more to open doors and lend encouragement than any other supporter. His death is a great loss to his family, his friends in Wales, and to those like us whose causes he supported.

Beagle Project co-founder, David Lort-Phillips writes:
Some might be surprised to learn that Richard, the farmer and countryman, also had, alongside his interest in jazz, a passion for the sea, exploration and maritime history. He said this sprang from his roots in a seafaring family, in particular the experiences of his master mariner father, who served aboard many vessels carrying cargo between South Wales and ports all over the world. He was the Lib Dem spokesman in the House of Lords on the last government’s Marine Bill, a lengthy and intricate piece of legislation which he studied with the thoroughness he devoted to every task he took on.

As a dairy farmer with a particular interest in rural development, I have known Richard since the 1970’s and regularly attended the Welsh Agricultural College Conferences he led. As a novice I learned much from the deeply researched but practical advice which was a feature of his lectures.

As was the case with all other causes he was drawn to, he worked tirelessly for the Beagle Trust, became its first patron, opened many doors for us and hosted occasions for us at the House of Lords.

The mission of the Trust, to rebuild in modern form the famous little ship which took Darwin around the world, as a resource for science, education and adventure was an idea which clearly caught his imagination. He was never too busy to help, always thanking us for whatever positive information we could pass on to him (often little enough), as if he was the beneficiary of the association rather than the trustee. We will miss him greatly and apply ourselves all the more to realise the vision we shared with him.

15 September 2010

Beagle Project in the Guardian

Many thanks to Alok Jha for inviting me to contribute to the Guardian's science blogging festival. It's great publicity for the Beagle Project as we enter into what I hope will be a good autumn for us, and I have to admit being pretty excited to see my byline on the Guardian's website.