We were all very saddened to hear of the death of Dr Paul Antony Olver on 25th October 2021 having suffered several years of ill health after a lifetime inspiring people, especially the general public, to take an interest in geology.
Paul studied geology at Birmingham University, going on to gain a PhD working on volcanic rocks, which remained his first interest in Geology. After working for the coal board he moved into education at Farnham College where he rose to be deputy head. Here he honed his interest in adult extra mural education, giving classes and leading field trips, something he had first engaged in as a research student. He also orchestrated the development of the local Farnham Geology Society. His main interests in both geology and astronomy where highlighted in 1999 when he organised and led a three week trip for them across Europe to see the eclipse in Hungary, taking in many important geological sights along the way.
Shortly afterwards he moved to Herefordshire where he worked as the Lifelong Learning Officer for the county council as well as continuing to run courses for the Workers Education Association. He quickly joined the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club, twice becoming its President, and instigated the resurrection of the Geology Section within the club, becoming its very active Chairman.
After leaving the council’s employment he continued running classes and field trips both in the UK and abroad. His involvement in the Martley area was a typical example. Shortly after arriving in Herefordshire, whilst exploring the area he met the landowner of a local pit long since filled in, now known as Martley Rock, that had been visited by leading geologists since Victorian times. Public interest increased as he started a series of classes in Martley that led to the formation of the Teme Valley Geological Society. Paul became its first President and helped them to obtain European funding to become England’s first Geovillage. In 2010 he persuaded the owner of Marley Rock to allow a series of trenches to be dug in the adjacent field that has led to a better understanding of the complex geology in a very small area.
Paul became a member of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust shortly after moving to the area and had worked on EHT projects such as the Geodiversity Audit carried out for the Geodiversity Action Plan for Herefordshire and Worcestershire before becoming a trustee in 2009. He continued to contribute from his vast geological knowledge after standing down from the board in 2017.
Paul had been a member of the London based national Geologists Association (GA) in 1980, leading field trips for them over the years, latterly becoming a member of the governing council. There he led and actively encouraged an outreach programme leading to many more events being held outside the London area than previously. As reported in August’s edition of this newsletter, earlier this year, in recognition of his years of support, the GA awarded him the Foulerton Award. This award is one of their most prestigious and is made in recognition of work of merit connected with the Association. Due to Covid restrictions it was presented to him on a very sunny Saturday in June in his garden by the Association’s current president.
He leaves his wife Sue and their two sons. To all of whom we extend our deepest sympathy.