Obituary - Dr Charlie Geddes

Fellows' Lounge
1 May 2016

William Charles ‘Charlie’ Geddes BSc PhD CChem FIMMM MRSC 1938–2016

Charlie Geddes was born in Buckie, in the north east of Scotland, and grew up on a farm in nearby Tynet. He went to the University of Aberdeen to study Chemistry in 1955, having just turned 17. In addition to his studies, he was goalkeeper for the university football team and secretary of the sports union. With a first class honours degree he went on to complete a PhD on the study of isotactic polymers. 

In the holidays, he went back to work on the farm and played cricket in the nearby village of Fochabers. After home games, they frequented the Grant Arms, where the daughter of the owners worked behind the bar. Eventually, Charlie plucked up the courage to ask Sheena out – five times before she said yes. Romance blossomed and they married in 1963. They moved to Shawbury, near Shrewsbury, where Charlie worked as a research scientist with RAPRA on projects such as PVC degradation. They spent four happy years in Shawbury, where they had the first two of their four children, and made many friends. They were keen to come back to Scotland, though, and Charlie got an R&D job with Nairn-Williamson in Kirkcaldy, working on the development of cushioned vinyl and linoleum floor coverings.

In 1970, he joined the young Napier College as its first full-time lecturer in Polymer Technology. Building on the existing City & Guilds courses, Charlie developed the Certificate in Polymer Technology, a course for technicians on the Technicians Award Scheme. As Napier College grew into Napier University, Charlie played his part in the development of several new degree courses, especially the Applied Chemistry BSc course with a specialism in Polymer Science and Technology. Courses such as the HNC in Polymer Technology and MSc in Plastics Moulding Technology came later, all of which Charlie was course leader for at some time. The daily commute to Edinburgh for 25 years must have been tough going but, typical of Charlie, he never complained. 

In 1971, he joined the Plastics Institute – which merged into the Plastics and Rubber Institute (PRI) in 1975 – and was elected a Fellow in 1984. In 1996, he took early retirement from full-time employment but continued part-time consultancy work and freelance teaching. He really enjoyed this and was able to dedicate more time to helping with the running of the Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association (SPRA) as Honorary Secretary until 2014. Charlie, a Fellow of IOM3, was a founder member of the SPRA in 1993, having been an active Committee Member of its forerunner, the Scottish Section of the PRI. He became the SPRA’s first webmaster and, latterly, publications officer. Charlie was awarded the second ever Fellowship of the SPRA in 2006 for his contribution to polymer education in Scotland and service to the SPRA.

To many, not only in Scotland but also throughout the UK, Charlie and his wife, as Membership Secretary, were the SPRA. Together they attended local meetings, IOM3 Local Society Forums, British Plastics Federation and the Horners’ Company events as representatives, indeed ambassadors, for SPRA.

In addition to his wife Sheena, he leaves four children and five grandchildren. They will all miss him, as will friends, colleagues, former students and all those whose lives he enriched, who will always remember him as a true gentleman and a scholar.

Colin Hindle CEng FIMMM