Neil Bucknell joined the BOU in 1990. Recognising his potential early on saw the BOU recruit him to the then Ornithological Affairs Committee in 1994. In 1997 he was elected to BOU Council as Honorary Secretary, a post he held until 2006.
Neil’s arrival on Council was no coincidence. The BOU was going through major change and, unbeknown on his appointment, about to face financial ruin squarely in the face. One of Neil’s first roles was to assist with two critical appointments in 1997. The first was the appointment of a new Editor of Ibis who would oversee the major transformation of the journal including a change of publisher and a near doubling of submissions. The second was the appointment of the BOU’s first full-time Administrator which alone began the process of putting the BOU on a more secure, sound and professional footing. Neil was hugely supportive of both of these positions in many ways, including acting as line manager for BOU staff during his term of office.
During this time Neil was also a member of the small management team and working closely with the other Officers, the Editor of Ibis and the Administrator he helped to steer the BOU through treacherous waters and save the BOU from going under and disappearing for good.
A solicitor by profession with a particular interest in planning matters, his legal expertise was invaluable to the Union during negotiations over the publication of Ibis, and not least for his knowledge of contracts.
It is without doubt a tribute both to Neil’s skill as a manager behind the scenes and to the self-effacing way with which he wears his achievements that most members are unaware either of the situation that the Union found itself in in the late 1990s or of his role in bringing about the BOU’s transformation.
On leaving BOU Council his skills were quickly recruited by the BTO to their Council and for whom he has served as Secretary since 2011.
Neil has also served as Chair (1995-1998) of the Reading Ornithological Club during the critical time that it became the Berkshire Ornithological Club, again from 2006 to 2009, and became President in 2012. He chairs the publication committee of the BBAG steering group, which is publishing a second edition of The Birds of Berkshire incorporating the results of the 2007-11 atlas project. Neil has served as a board member of Reading College of Art and Technology and (after its amalgamation) Thames Valley University.
With the award of the Union Medal, the BOU wishes to recognise Neil’s contribution to the Union and ornithology, and especially for his wise guidance through uncharted and potentially perilous waters during a time of significant transition for the BOU.
A full citation will appear in the July issue of Ibis.
The BOU’s Union Medal is awarded by the BOU to a Union Member in recognition of eminent services to the BOU and ornithology.