We are deeply saddened to report the sudden death of our great friend Richard Shore on July 28 2020, aged 57. As Vice-Chair of the Society from 2015-2018, Chair of the Society’s Science Advisory Council, our long-suffering Conference Secretary, and long-time member of Council, Richard made an outstanding contribution to the Mammal Society over many years. He was a leading environmental scientist, known internationally for his research and advisory work on understanding and mitigating the effects of pollutants on wildlife. Among the many honours he received for his work was the Mammal Society Medal in 2010. His research papers have been cited more than 7,000 times.
Richard graduated with a first class honours degree in zoology from the University of Bristol. He then went to on to undertake a PhD at Manchester, under the supervision of Derek Yalden, where he worked on the effects of environmental variation in calcium on the physiology and population ecology of small mammals. Derek — who served as President of the Mammal Society — doubtless passed on his love of the Mammal Society to his student, and Richard was an enthusiastic supporter of the Society throughout his busy career.
After his PhD, Richard moved to the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology where he investigated the impacts of timber treatments on bats. His ecotoxicological research went on to encompass species ranging from hedgehogs to polecats, and he successfully ran the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme. His work not only identified and improved understanding of current and emerging chemical threats, but informed policy and regulation. Respect for his expertise and his wise counsel, led him to be selected to serve on numerous national and international advisory panels, including Defra’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides, the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the European Food Safety Authority scientific panel on Plant Health, Plant Protection Products and their Residues.
Richard was remarkable in always being available with sound advice, no matter how busy he was. Over recent years, he became not only the Head of the Lancaster Site for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), but also CEH’s Science Area Head for Pollution, managing staff across multiple sites. Nevertheless, he somehow found time in the diary to deal with Mammal Society Council business, helping us through a particularly tricky period of staff and budget reorganisation. His clear thinking also became something of a legend. Richard would cut straight to the point and have already developed a bullet point of actions before most people had even begun to focus on the question.
Many members of the Society, young and not-so-young alike, will have enjoyed a drink with Richard at our conference bars: approachability was his trade-mark. He was a mentor in the true sense of the word, generously offering advice and encouragement, but then standing back to let others flourish. He became a much-loved PhD supervisor, with many of his students becoming long-term friends and colleagues. He was also funny. It would take very little persuasion for Richard to share his photographs of ever-more outrageously large rats clipped from stories published in the media (the Daily Star in particular); and when he finally stepped down from Council he sent in his place a photo of a pastéis de nata (Portugese custard tart) — which he called ‘pasties of the night’ and were bought from the shop next-door to our London meeting room.
Fiona Mathews, Chair of the Society says “Richard was an outstanding scientist and a true wildlife enthusiast. His most recent leading role in the Society’s Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals, was only the latest in a string of energetic contributions to the Mammal Society’s research activities. He was instrumental in re-establishing the Society’s scientific credentials. Richard was also the kind of rare person you could always rely on; answering queries no matter how busy he was with other work, offering support and good advice, and then telling you it was time to take a break. I’ll also remember his humour. One of my last messages from him reads ‘At Crewe Station. It’s now selling pastéis de nata. First positive thing I have found to say about Crewe!’.”
Paul Chanin, former President of the Mammal Society says “I will remember him for his warmth and friendliness, his great sense of humour and for always being willing to help and offer sound advice. In meetings he had a remarkable ability to cut to the core of a problem or discussion and put forward a sound solution – which was almost always adopted!”.
We are touched that Richard’s wife Dinah, and children Rachel, Joe and Anya, have suggested the Mammal Society as one of five charities that friends and colleagues of Richard could contribute to in his memory. Should you wish to make a contribution, please contact Janet Pressland, our finance officer firstname.lastname@example.org. CEH has also opened a remembrance book, and if you would like to submit a memory, please email LAPollutionSupport@ceh.ac.uk who will forward a link and instructions.
This item featured in the Autumn issue of our members’ magazine Mammal News.