It is with sadness that the Trustees and staff of the British Science Association (BSA) learned of the passing of Sir Colin Blakemore on Monday 27 June 2022.

Sir Colin was appointed President of the BSA in 1998, and Chair between 2001 and 2004.

In 2001, Sir Colin was also made an Honorary Fellow, announced at the annual British Science Festival in Glasgow.

Sir Colin continued to support BSA programmes, for example, acting as a celebrity judge for young peoples’ projects and ideas at the National Science and Engineering Competition in 2011 and 2012.

One of Sir Colin’s activities as President was a speech at the University of Oxford in 1998. He addressed Sir Walter Bodmer (whose eponymous report for the Royal Society in 1985 is widely credited as starting the movement for the public understanding of science, which evolved into the practice of public engagement with science), the Lord Mayor, those at the university, members of the Association and other attendees calling for the formation of a ‘Ministry of Science’ and for science to work for society and the wider public, a notion that wasn’t particularly common then.

Sir Colin encouraged scientists to speak openly with the public, a quality we value in scientists today. We pay tribute to Sir Colin’s advocacy for science communication before it was expected of researchers.

In the closing section of his speech, he asserted:

It is the task of the scientific community, the scientific media, and, dare I say it, the new Ministry of Science, to answer the public's concerns, to provide them with the knowledge on which to make valid judgements, and to respect the fact that the people are the ultimate arbiters of how science can best serve this country in the 21st century.

His bold ideas are realised in the current Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Government’s Office for Science amongst others, and present-day aims for the UK to become a ‘science super power’.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with Sir Colin’s family, colleagues and loved ones at this time.

Image of Colin Blakemore courtesy of BBC