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Tribute to Ian Dunbar

9 June 2014

Ian Dunbar, BCT Chair 2004-2010 sadly died on 11 April 2014

Photo of Ian Dunbar, Amy Coyte and Vincent Weir

Photo of Ian Dunbar, Amy Coyte and Vincent Weir

The BCT staff and trustees as well as many BCT members are deeply saddened at the loss of Ian and our thoughts are with his wife, children, wider family and friends.

Ian’s career was in marketing and business development and he has worked for and advised a wide range of companies. He had a lifelong interest in gardening and became intrigued by bats after attending a bat walk at Wakehurst Place. His first encounter with bats inspired Ian to join BCT and when he spotted an advert in Bat News seeking trustees with marketing experience he generously volunteered his knowledge and time to the cause. Ian joined the board of trustees in 2001, was Treasurer briefly in 2003 (after the very sad and unexpected death of Pete Guest) and then Chair from 2004-2010. During this time Ian built up a lasting legacy for BCT's governance by introducing the recruitment of trustees with the mix of different skills and experience we needed to govern BCT as an effective charity. Ian grew a strong team of trustees which stood up well in some difficult times.

Here are a few of the many recollections we have of Ian:

Richard Crompton, BCT Trustee (2001-2010)

This is extremely sad news. Ian and I became trustees at the same time and for nine years he was a friend and mentor -often coaching me in the duties as Company Secretary / Director. I was always taken with how dedicated he was for someone who had little background in conservation or wildlife. He was never too busy to help.

He steered BCT through some stormy waters and always with respect; always gathering views of those around him before adding his own ideas. I will continue to take inspiration from his leadership style for the rest of my life in conservation.

Julia Hanmer, BCT CEO (1998-2003 and 2009-present):

Ian was a wonderfully supportive mentor. He encouraged me to develop my skills in public speaking and to build up a senior team to support me in running BCT. I will always be very grateful for his expert and thoughtful support. He showed great trust and confidence in me and the team and was always there with wise counsel. Ian was very modest and never mentioning all the time he invested in BCT or wanting thanks.

Amy Coyte, BCT CEO (2000-2009):

Ian was a leader who quietly brought people together; he ensured the board of trustees was a cohesive top team delivering strong governance for the organisation.  This was vital when bats and the BCT faced some incredibly difficult challenges such as the issue of European Bat Lyssaviruses in the UK.  He worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a positive outcome for bats and the BCT often against the odds.

He was a great mentor to me when I was CEO for BCT and also in future roles.  His clear thinking, attention to detail and ability to bring the best out of people was a powerful combination.  I will miss him very much not least because he helped me to always be open to learning.

Anne Youngman, BCT Scottish Bat Officer:

I remember that Ian was very helpful to me when the Scottish Project first started. Everything was so completely new I needed quite a lot of support and advice.  Ian was one of the people I remember being especially kind and helpful.  One of my first tasks was to have a large display created. I needed something that fitted the BCT “look” but was also undoubtedly Scottish in flavour. Getting it right felt quite a responsibility. I wanted to create something really beautiful and eye catching, I felt it would “set the tone” for the Scottish Project. Ian was my main source of help and advice.  I’m sure he had far more important things to do but he made time to look at photographs and draft layouts and gave helpful feedback.  The display did turn out to be as eye-catching and beautiful as I hoped, so a great success from that point of view and something that is obvious to everyone who sees it. What’s not obvious, except to me, is the help and support I got from Ian was a lovely welcome to working to BCT, it really helped to “set the tone” of working in a friendly and co-operative atmosphere. I’m very grateful to Ian for his help, in his quiet friendly way he set a good example for us all.

Chris Packham, BCT President

This is sad news. People like Ian leave a legacy which lives on in others, such as Amy and Julia. Their energy has been transferred through their devotion, passion and inspiration.

Nick Tomlinson, BCT trustee (2007-2012):

Ian was a lovely man, I really enjoyed working with him for the short time I did. I had a lot of time for Ian - I really admired his dedication, his business skills, listening ability and his power of making the right calls under pressure. He chaired the board of trustees extremely effectively.

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