Born in 1910, Rupert Cole's showed early academic and athletic ability. After school in London, during his six years at Kings College, University of London, he gained a 1st Class Hons BA degree (1931), an Institute of Education Diploma and, as a Research Scholar, a PhD in Natural Sciences. During this time he took a full part in the life of Kings College representing the University in the three sports of running, boxing and rugby football.
Although he joined the Marketing Division of the UK Ministry of Agriculture in 1934, subsequently moving to the Land Fertility Division, he continued his studies gaining MSc degrees from the London School of Economics in 1938 and from Kings College, London in 1940. Twenty years later he was awarded a Doctor of Science degree by the University of Bonn, while in 1958 he received an Honorary DSc from Mexico.
It was a fortunate decision for the British poultry industry that in 1945, and marking the first step in the formation by the Ministry of Agriculture of the National Agricultural Advisory Service, Dr Rupert Coles was appointed Chief Poultry Advisory Officer. His main function was to operate a team that, at its peak, was to number over 100 advisers located throughout England and Wales. In the immediate, post war years there was an urgent need to expand food production and although initially in most of Europe feedstuffs for livestock were just as scarce as human food it began to emerge by the mid 1950s that the poultry industry was capable of achieving quite dramatic improvements in growth and efficiency.
The application of improved technology and in the dissemination of the latest scientific information on all aspects of egg and poultry meat production where the prime objectives of poultry advisers. Through the imaginative and dynamic leadership of Dr Coles a great deal was done to maximise the benefits for the country's producers. For example a comprehensive technical data bank was set up; various communication methods were exploited, with Dr Coles himself being highly active in speaking at discussion group meetings and conferences and writing extensively for the commercial and scientific press; close liaison was developed with research establishments and with leading farmers throughout the country and, perceiving the need for ever increasing depth of knowledge, he pioneered the establishment of national specialists who were able to become experts in particular sectors of the science of poultry production.
In large measure the efficiency of the UK poultry today owes much to the role played by Dr Coles from 1945 up to his retirement in 1970. Of course being at Headquarters in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (reformulated to include Food in 1956) ensured that Rupert Cole was involved in a great many other activities ranging across commissions of enquiry, missions to various parts of the world and innumerable committees and working groups within and associated with the MAFF. As a meticulous worker and forthright speaker, it is hardly surprising that the combined and rapid effect was for Rupert Coles he become the automatic leader of the British poultry industry - a role he fulfilled with great dignity and distinction until his retirement.
In 1946 Dr Coles joined the World's Poultry Science Association and from then to the present day has devoted his many talents and a great deal of energy to promoting the objectives of the Association and to helping the organisation to develop and flourish. Initially he was UK member of the publications committee and much involved in the establishment of Branches - he became Chairman of the UK Branch in 1951 and the following year Vice President of the World Association. At the 1954 Congress he was elected President and served the customary 4 year term. When the Federation of European Branches became formally established at the first European Conference at Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1960, Dr Coles was elected its first President. Following the death of Major Ian Macdougall in 1968 he took over as Acting Secretary, subsequently being formally elected at the 1970 Congress in Madrid. Although he retired from this post in 1978 had handed over to his successor, the late Mr William Naish, Bill Naish's illness a few months later led to Dr Coles begin persuaded to take back the duties of Secretary for a further term. Due to the cancellation of the 1982 Congress Rupert Coles continued in this capacity until 1984, completing a remarkable 16 year term. To date, in one capacity or another, Dr Coles has served as a member of the Executive Committee for over 36 years.
In spite of all these achievements and tireless work for the WPSA, no account of Rupert Coles would be complete without reference to his considerable ability as a linguist and his fine artistic skills in watercolour, sculpting and the making of reproduction firearms - virtually indistinguishable from their 16th and 17th century equivalents.
One cannot better a paragraph drawn from the Citation for the Macdougall Medal in 1978 - "Rupert is easily recognised by his bow tie and red carnation. His Churchill ian Bulldog expression and his biting wit cannot hide a warm hart. The hospitality of Rupert and his wife, Peggy, will long be remembered by those who have enjoyed it". Last year, in their home in Malta, Rupert and Peggy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Nominated by the United Kingdom