Tribute to Bernard Eaton, Founder and Vice President of the Marine Conservation Society
9th October 2012
The Marine Conservation Society pays fond tribute to their founder, Bernard Eaton, who died at the age of 86 last week.
Bernard set up DIVER, the magazine for British Sub Aqua Club members in the 1960s, and remained at the heart of that publication throughout his life. In the 1970s, driven by his passion for the underwater world and concern about the state of Britain’s seas, Bernard was inspired to organise an “Underwater Conservation Year – to promote the study and protection of natural and historical features of the underwater environment of value and interest to mankind”.
Together with his good friend, Professor David Bellamy, with whom he had collaborated on some pollution projects, they brought together marine biologists and professionals from the diving, research and government bodies to form a working party. It rapidly became clear that no one really knew that the marine environment was changing for the worse and Underwater Conservation Year was launched in 1977 to highlight the issues and establish the first UK baseline study of marine habitats and species such as sea urchins, sea slugs and sea fans.
Bernard had the foresight and drive to contact His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to become President of the Underwater Conservation Year and, the following year the Underwater Conservation Society set up to take forward the vital projects launched in 1977.
It was Bernard’s determination and vision that kept the Underwater Conservation Society going, secured funds and ultimately established the Marine Conservation Society charity in 1983.
Bernard was Chairman of the Marine Conservation Society for the charity’s first seven years and later Vice President. He was actively involved in the Society’s work throughout his career, attending conferences, promoting MCS work and projects through DIVER magazine and the Dive Shows.
Sam Fanshawe, MCS Chief Executive pays tribute to Bernard and says: “Bernard was a pioneer in marine conservation, his passion for Britain’s sea life and vision for the study of marine habitats and species in order to protect them for future generations created the foundations of the Marine Conservation Society. His charm, energy and enthusiasm bought together divers, scientists and government bodies to work together to ensure our seas are fit for future generations. Bernard leaves an inspirational legacy for all divers and marine naturalists and is remembered with great fondness and sincere appreciation for his significant contribution to marine conservation.”
Dr Bob Earll, one of the first staff to join the Underwater Conservation Society in 1978 following adds: "The world in the 1970’s was a very different place to what it is now. There were no organisations or professionals working on marine conservation in the UK. Against this backdrop it was Bernard’s idea and actions that spurred many individuals and organisations to take marine conservation seriously for the first time. His professionalism in relation to promoting diving and the underwater world inspired generations of divers to care for the wonders of the marine environment. His unswerving commitment to the protection of marine environment and MCS for over thirty years together with his generosity of spirit will be fondly remembered by all of us who were inspired by his prodigious output in DIVER magazine, and the conferences and exhibitions he ran."
The staff and trustees of the Marine Conservation Society extend our deepest sympathies to Bernard’s family at this time of loss.
Bernard’s family have very generously and thoughtfully asked that instead of flowers, they would welcome donations to be made to the Marine Conservation Society in memory of Bernard. Donations can be made at the following link including ‘Bernard Eaton In Memoriam’ as the donation type reference http://www.mcsuk.org/donations/donation.php
|Bernard Eaton at the launch of the Underwater Conservation Society in 1978||Bernard and his wife Vera meeting HRH The Prince of Wales at Marine Conservation Society 25th Anniversary in 2008 (copyright George Bodnar)|