Tribute to Dr Chris Page We were very sad to learn that Dr Chris Page, long time and loyal supporter of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, passed away on 9 December 2022 aged 80. Five members of RGSC Council were able to attend the funeral service at Gwennap Church on 30 December and pass on our condolences in person to Chris’ wife Clare, daughter Tamsin and other members of the family. This tribute is compiled from the RGSC condolences letter and the eulogy given by Frances Wall, President RGSC, at the funeral service.

Chris was a botanist of renown who enjoyed combining geological and biological science, and had done so since his PhD student days at Newcastle University in the late 1960s. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, Chris had traced his interest in combining geology and botany - geobotany - as far back as a memory from a pram in the second world war – narrowly escaping a bombing raid and enjoying the solidity of earth and plants! Later, collecting plant fossils from the Forest of Dean furthered an interdisciplinary interest very long before it was as trendy as it is now to do interdisciplinary research.

Following a career including 25 years at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Chris moved to Cornwall and edited the RGSC Transactions journal from 1996-2015. He stayed with the Society through some difficult times when we had to move out of St John’s Hall and was awarded the Bolitho Gold Medal of the Society in 2016 to mark his outstanding contribution. Chris then served as President of RGSC from 2016 to 2019, with a presidential lecture on, of course, his beloved geobotany subject. Chris was keen to increase the numbers attending talks and attract more young people to take part in activities and we are continuing to do those things. Although not able to attend fieldtrips in person to events recently, Chris was still in active email contact with us on the RGSC Council and we are very grateful for all his contributions.

The Society certainly benefitted very much from Chris’ scientific knowledge and enjoyed having a most enthusiastic ‘geobotanist’ in its midst.

The word ‘enthusiasm’ features in many members’ remarks and fond memories of Chris. Many members learned from his expertise, enjoyed his good company and were encouraged in their geological interests.

Chris also made important contributions to Camborne School of Mines. He joined CSM in 2004 and remained a senior honorary research fellow at the University until June this year. Chris started with CSM by very kindly volunteering to teach CSM environmental students about ferns on fieldwork with Loveday Jenkin, and continued to teach part-time on the environmental science and technology degree until 2008 - and as a lone botanist in Penryn taught on Biosciences courses too. Chris designed a courtyard garden at CSM to invoke the Cornish diaspora with its mix of diaspora plants and Cornish rocks and worked with Imerys on the re-vegetation of china clay waste with trees. Not ‘normal trees’ though, Chris introduced the monkey puzzle tree, (araucaria araucana), his particular research interest. This proved the much higher success rate when substrate (i.e. geology) is matched to plant species. This experiment helped in the preservation of the species which is endangered in its native Chile. In 2017, Chris presented the project in Parliament and wrote a paper for the Science in Parliament Journal.

Frances Wall with contributions from Loveday Jenkin, Hylke Glass

Tribute to the Queen  RGSC President, Frances Wall, sent a message of condolence via the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall as the nation mourns the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:


‘Members of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty the Queen. We appreciate and are thankful for such long and devoted service to the UK.

The RGSC benefitted from the patronage of the Prince Regent, the then Duke of Cornwall, soon after our formation in 1814, and has been pleased to retain the Royal name and support throughout its 208 year history.


We wish to extend our condolences to His Majesty the King and the rest of the Royal Family at this time.' 






Tribute to Melissa Hardie-Budden  We were deeply saddened to hear that long-time and active member of RGSC, Melissa Hardie-Budden MBE PhD died peacefully, with her family, on 5th July. Melissa was a social historian, and great activist who worked tirelessly to raise the profile of women’s achievements, especially by founding the Hypatia Trust in Penzance.

Dr Melissa Hardie-Budden MBE was a key member of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall (RGSC). She was an ordinary member in the early 2000s and as the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the society approached, Melissa took the lead, as editor from 2012, in keeping the Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall in production. She already had much experience in such matters through her work with the Hypatia Trust. Her new role was very important as the Transactions is the oldest continuously published geological transaction in the world. Even though the London Geological Society is two years older it lacks such a run of Transactions. Melissa produced the Bi-Centennial Transactions in 2014 which contained her paper on the Cornish banker, Elizabeth Carne, one of the most important members of the RGSC in the nineteenth century and indeed its first female member - RGSC Transactions. Also during the Bi-Centennial celebrations, Melissa facilitated the space in the Morrab Library for Chris Page to prepare a Bicentennial display which covered all four walls and was open to visitors for a considerable time. She also kept the Society updated on progress on the Morrab Gardeners’ House renovation project and arranged for an RGSC project representative.

Between 2014 and 2018, Melissa produced an index and bibliography CD of the Transactions from 1814-2015 together with David Freeman and John Elliott. During their years in office as President and Secretary, Neil Plummer and Roger Holmes had dealt with all the worldwide enquiries including correspondence dealing with historical facts. After their demise, Melissa, as a historian familiar with the research, was the ideal person to take charge of the RGSC archive. Hence at the 2019 AGM, she was duly elected to the Council as Correspondence Secretary and Holder of the Society’s Asset registers.

Melissa’s kindness, enthusiasm and activism – her positive attitude and ability to get things done - were great assets to all the groups she worked with and we were extremely privileged to have been able to benefit from Melissa’s involvement with RGSC. 


You might like to view other tributes at:

Donations to the Hypatia Trust :

Tribute written by Caradoc Peters and Frances Wall

Tribute to Frank Howie  It was with great sadness that we learned that RGSC member Frank Howie had died on Wednesday 27 April 2022 aged 76.

Frank was a chemist originally and then did a geology degree by evening classes at Birkbeck College. Frank was an expert in palaeontology conservation and then health and safety advisor at the Natural History Museum London.

After retirement to Cornwall, Frank researched speleothems and other Quaternary Geology. He was a Trustee of The Cornwall Wildlife Trust and chair of its Geoconservation Group. Frank had sadly been suffering from cancer for some time but continued to play an active role in RGSC Council and lecture meetings until very recently.

The funeral, which took place on 20th May at Camborne crematorium, was attended by several RGSC members. The celebration of Frank’s life included various geological and chemical stories, in tributes from Frank’s children and close friend, Heather Williams. Professor Frances Wall, President of the RGSC read the following tribute at the funeral.

‘I first knew Frank when we both worked at the Natural History Museum in London, so it was a great pleasure to meet him again here in Cornwall when I joined Camborne School of Mines. One way or another Frank was involved in many geological activities in SW England. As a conscientious ordinary member of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, Frank attended the AGMs in Penzance and volunteered to be RGSC representative for the Morrab Gardeners House project. This should have been a nice restricted task, requiring occasional reports to Council but somehow in what I am told was very typical style, Frank volunteered to attend RGSC Council meetings and immediately became an active, important, supportive and much-liked member of the RGSC team over the last couple of years. He volunteered to give one of our monthly lectures, on one of his favourite subjects, entitled ‘Pyrite the ubiquitous sulphide’. Frank gave the talk on Zoom in September last year and, for those familiar with such things, topics in his comprehensive talk ranged from his original interest of fossil pyrite conservation to a modern day pyrite snail that lives at hydrothermal vents and looks a bit like a pangolin, to new battery materials.

Frank’s role chairing the Cornwall Geoconservation Group enabled us at RGSC to start a fruitful collaboration between the two groups, and Frank was able to chair a joint lecture as recently as February this year. So, on a final note, like the title of his talk, ‘the ubiquitous sulphide’, ‘ubiquitous’ is a good word to describe Frank – the ubiquitous geologist, whose contribution to the region and science was extremely valuable. Frank will be much missed but very well remembered.'   Photo provided by Tanya Dickson

Announcing the sad death of Neil Plummer on 22 April 2021 

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Neil Plummer. 

This picture of Neil was taken in Sept 2018, after he led a field trip of U3A budding geologists down Rosevale Mine, a privately owned former tin mine, situated at Zennor, near St Ives.

Neil was at home with his wife Beatrice Kerno, and had been poorly for some time. Several RGSC Council members joined Beatrice and a large congregation for the funeral procession and service in Stithians.

Neil’s contribution to RGSC over the years was immense, not only in working to ensure the Society could continue after disagreements about its future, but in taking multiple roles over the years including Secretary, President, Convenor of Meetings and fieldtrip leader. Neil was honoured with the Bolitho Gold Medal of the RGSC in 2019. Perhaps the existence of the Society is itself the greatest memorial. 

Beatrice said: "I would like to thank you for the messages of sympathy and especially the recognition of what a fantastic person Neil was. He lived for his rocks and fossils and Cornwall and planning, aiming in his 40 years as a Kerrier and Cornwall Councillor, to keep Cornwall from being covered in concrete. He fought fiercely for the protection of the World Heritage Mining Sites".  Article about Neil Link