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BGA AGM report: BGA bestows medal honours

The British Geotechnical Association used June’s annual general meeting to celebrate the careers of two members with presentation of Skempton Medals.

In a break from the usual convention, the British Geotechnical Association’s (BGA) annual general meeting (AGM) was held in the evening on 17 June at the Institution of Civil Engineers, London. The AGM is normally held as part of the annual conference but the BGA has chosen not to run the event this year in order to focus on the XVI ECSMGE conference in Edinburgh in September.

Skempton Medal

From the left; Hugh St John (delivered evening lecture), Martyn Stroud (11th Skempton Medallist), Mrs Stroud, Chris Menkiti (BGA Chair), Mrs Nicholson and Duncan Nicholson (12th Skempton Medallist)

While the timing of the event differed from previous years, the focus on highlighting the best of British geotechnics was still strong with presentation of two Skempton Medals, news of the BGA’s progress and a keynote lecture on the challenges of basement construction. The AGM was held at the start of the evening, followed by the lecture from GCG senior partner Hugh St John on urban sub-structure construction, which compared and contrasted large commercial developments with increasingly large domestic basement extensions. The occasion ended with an evening reception sponsored by Arup.

The highlight of the AGM was the award of the 11th and 12th Skempton Medals to Arup’s Martyn Stroud and Duncan Nicholson. Sir Alec Skempton’s daughter and author of his biography A Particle of Clay, Judith Niechcial presented the medals following citations given by Imperial College’s John Burland for Stroud and by Arup colleague Brian Simpson for Nicholson.

The Skempton Medal is the BGA’s highest medal honour. It is awarded to a BGA member who has made an outstanding contribution to the practice of geotechnical engineering over a sustained period of time. The last recipient of the medal was Hugh St John in 2009. Previous recipients are W G Fleming and R H G Parry (1999), A M Penman and K W Cole (1997), D A Greenwood (1993), D J Croney and W H Ward (1991), M J Tomlinson (1988) and the inaugural medal was awarded to Skempton, himself, also in 1988.

BGA chairman, Chris Menkiti, delivered an annual report that highlighted the current strength of the BGA. He noted that evening meetings are vibrant and varied, the BGA Early Career Group is flourishing, BGA finances are in good shape, membership numbers are growing, the BGA continues to progress along the lines of its 2020 Vision strategy document and the Edinburgh conference is shaping up to be very successful with a potentially outstanding legacy.

The AGM also welcomed Kelvin Higgins, Miguel Andrade and Rob Talby as newly elected members of the BGA executive committee. Peter Rutty, Mike Winter and Stuart Hardy, who have stepped down after serving three years, were thanked for their efforts since joining the committee.

A resolution was passed modifying the BGA statues to allow electronic voting. The statues as previously worded had only allowed postal voting and this did not permit benefit to be taken of emerging digital technology.

Andrew Ridley also provided an update on discussions between the BGA and FMGM (Field Measurements in Geomechanics) that were reported in the July issue of GE. The BGA will assist in providing a secretariat for FMGM, formed by a sub-committee of both BGA and FMGM executive committee members and other co-opted members. 

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