Launch of the Bruce Blanche Memorial Awards in Applied GeoScience

Bruce Blanche during the MMEA Scout Group Field Trip to the Isle of Portland, Dorset; September 2013

Thanks to the generosity of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa Scout Group, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Bruce Blanche Memorial Awards in Applied GeoScience.

The Awards will be made in memory of Bruce Blanche, who sadly passed away in 2018. Bruce was a highly valued member of the Heriot-Watt community as an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering. 

Professor John Underhill explains: “Bruce made a major contribution to our MSc program and research effort in the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering (IGE) through the delivery of courses and sage advice and guidance for students and staff. His untimely death stripped us of a passionate and enthusiastic geoscientist who was an advocate for Heriot-Watt and it is entirely fitting that we honour his passing in this way.”

Bruce had a long and varied career in the oil industry, which you can read more about here and his family remain rightly proud of his achievements:

“Bruce was the driving force behind many new oil and gas ventures. It was his passion for forging new alliances and bringing together key operators that was the hallmark of his achievements. A patient, generous and kind tutor, Bruce was delighted to mentor any trainee exploration geoscientist and, as such, this award is the epitome of our late father and husband.

"We, his family, are thrilled that his passion for outreach, education and geology will live on through this prize, and that he may continue to inspire the next generation of geoscientists in the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering at Heriot-Watt.”

It was very much with this mind-set that Bruce and a few other people became the leading organisers of what became the London oil industry scout groups.  The terminology has nothing to do with Lord Baden-Powell - Scout groups are simply professional networks.  Bruce was the Chairman and Treasurer for very many years, roping in his wife, Jean to assist with all the book-keeping. 

Jerry Jarvis from the Scout Group explains: “It was primarily Bruce’s skill in bringing people together and attracting them to the Scout Group that we will be eternally grateful for.  As in the rest of his life, he was always the generous host, making new members most welcome and keeping old friends (as we all became) up to date with industry gossip and rumour.  It was a very sad day indeed when we heard that he had passed away. 

"The group decided we wanted to mark Bruce’s passing and make some kind of lasting memorial to the man and his life.  We were aware that he assisted with teaching duties at Heriot Watt University and that his own son was also a student there.   And so the idea was developed of a memorial fund – a sum of money which could be used in perpetuity to fund a small prize or award to a deserving student. The Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa Scout Group are very pleased to have set up this memorial prize in Bruce Blanche’s name.”

The bequest has come about through a collaboration between Professor John Underhill (IGE) and Karen Benge in HWU’s development & Alumni Office, who worked with the Scout Group and Bruce’s family to scope out the awards.

The Award will recognise the best MSc theses each year in Applied Geoscience with a total prize of £500. Students studying on the Applied Petroleum Geoscience and Subsurface Energy Systems PGT programs will be eligible for the awards.

Please contact Professor John Underhill  for more information.


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