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Emeritus Professor Sir Colin Spedding 1925 - 2012

Colin Spedding

Colin Spedding was appointed Professor of Agricultural Systems in the University's Department of Agriculture and Horticulture from 1 October 1975, having previously been a Visiting Professor in the Department of Agriculture from 1970 when a member of the Grassland Research Institute at Hurley.

He was Head of the Department of Agriculture and Horticulture from October 1975 until 1981; Director of the Centre for Agricultural Strategy from March 1981; Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food for three years from 1 August 1983; and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for four years from 1 October 1986. He was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours 1988 and ‘retired' on 30 September 1990.

As well as a knighthood and professorship, Colin Spedding was a CBE, MSc, PhD, DSc, CBiol, Hon FIBiol, FRASE, FIHort, FRAgS, Hon Assoc RCVS and Hon DSc (Reading) - to mention just a few.

It is a necessity to place quotation marks around the word retirement when referring to Professor Spedding as he was actively engaged in many committees and Councils such as the Farm Animal Welfare Council well into his eighties.

Colleague, Alan Malcolm FSB said: "Early in his ninth decade he confessed he had retired from five committees that year. When congratulated on taking things easier, he admitted that he had accepted the chair of seven new ones."

Colin Raymond William Spedding left school aged 14. He started his working life washing test tubes in a chemistry lab, and studied in the evenings for a degree in zoology.

After three years in the Royal Navy, he then worked for the Grassland Research Institute from 1949 to 1975, when he joined the University of Reading.

He loved to show schoolchildren around his three-acre garden, creating wildlife traps and areas in which to study nature. He wrote a number of books on the subject, including The Natural History of Your Garden (2003) and What's in Your Garden (2010). Professor Spedding also collected proverbs from around the world and, in 2005, had published The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese (Proverbs and their Uses).

A memorial service is planned in Reading Minster of St Mary the Virgin, St May's Butts, Reading RG1 2HX at 11.00am on Friday 22 March - on what would have been Professor Spedding's 88th birthday. Professor Spedding is survived by his daughter, Lucy, and son, Geoffrey.

For more detailed obituaries of Professor Spedding, please visit the Society of Biology and Farmers Weekly websites.

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