Obituary: Professor W. G. C. Carter

Richard William Gale Carter, coastal scientist: born Bristol 24 February 1946: Research Student, New University of Ulster 1968-72; Lecturer in Geography, City of London Polytechnic 1972; lecturer, New University of Ulster 1972-93, Head of Department of Environmental Studies 1988-92; married Clare Binney (one son, one daughter); died Belfast 17 July 1993.

WITH the death of Bill Carter the world of environmental studies has lost one of leading coastal scientists in Great Britain and Ireland. Amongst his colleagues and friends Carter will be remembered not only for his academic scholarship, but also as an immense, engaging personality. If his personality had to be summed up in only one word, that word would be 'dynamic'.

Born in Bristol in 1946, Carter attended Bristol Cathedral school before going on to university in Aberystwyth and graduating with the University of Wales prize for geography in 1968. The same year he arrived at the New University of Ulster at Coleraine as a research student. Under the supervision of Professor Frank Oldfield, Carter's love ofthe Northern Ireland coastline was awakened, which later extended to coastlines throughout the world. After a year away from Ulster lecturing in geography at the City of London Polytechnic in 1972, Carter returned to lecture at the New University of Ulster, where he remained until his death.

Initially stimulated by geomorphology, his interest in coastal processes gradually encompassed ecological and human influences and the consequent coastal research management problems and their potential solutions. A holistic, interrelated approach to the coast is embodied in many of the books he authored or co-authored. His most significant and seminal work is his 600-page Coastal Environments (1988), a definitive textbook on the problems of contemporary and future coastal management around the world. He also wrote over 110 academic papers and reports. Carter delivered conference papers at over 70 international conferences and took on editorship or assistant editorships of numerous journals including Irish Geography, Journal of Coastal Research, Journal of Shoreline Management and Aquatic Conservation, which helped establish and consolidate his worldwide academic standing.

In the early 1980s, Carter began to build a research team, initially local and later national and international in character. Throughout the Eighties and early Nineties, Carter's coastal team's research findings were consistently impressive. National and international research awards were secured from organisations such as Nato, the US National Parks Service, the EC, the Royal Society, the NERC and a host of government departments.

Widely known and admired in Irish environmental circles for his committee work with the Ulster Countryside Committee, National Trust, and Irish Geographical Society, Carter was also recognised in the broader community for his frequent media appearances on environmental issues. In 1992 his international standing was acknowledged when he was elected President of the European Union for Coastal Conservation, the largest coastal research group in Europe.

When taking part in joint research projects in Spain and Portugal, colleagues fondly remember Carter not quite coming to grips with the southern European lunch break; they bet their Spanish and Portuguese academic counterparts that Carter would not be persuaded to sit for more than half an hour at any lunch talk before being overtaken by the urge to get up and continue exploring. For over five years his colleagues never lost a bet.

At least 12 generations of Ulster students on Spanish field courses can testify to Carter's acerbic observations characteristically delivered in his broad West Country 'burr', decrying the anarchic development associated with the growth of mass tourism in the Malaga region.

When Carter became head of the Department of Environmental Studies at Ulster in 1988 his qualities of leadership, humour and compassion were never more apparent, engendering a tremendous loyalty amongst his staff, for whom he always baked individual birthday cakes.

Words which immediately spring to mind in remembering Bill Carter are humour (usually irreverent), infectious enthusiasm, caring, concern for people, unstinting generosity, intense optimism (essential in a lifelong Bristol City supporter) and superficial irascibility.

Last year he stood down as Head of Department in order to concentrate more on his research activities, and further develop the fruitful research partnership he had formed with his long-standing co-researcher Julian Orford, of Queen's University, Belfast.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?