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Prof Malcolm Coe
Academic Field:
Years at RTC:
Town of origin:
East London, England
Recent Residence:
Headington, Oxford, England
Life after RTC:
I was brought up with my twin brother Hugh in East London, where my Father was with the Metropolitan Police CID throughout WWII and a VI Flying Bomb came very close to killing us all. My passionate interest in Natural History was kindled during two years of wartime evacuation to the tiny village of Leigh Sinton in Worcestershire. After leaving school in 1950 I joined the Royal Air Force for two years of National Service, where I was commissioned as a Radar Supervisor. I continued my service affiliation when I became a VR Training With Mo and Samira Hyder, Vipingo 2010 Officer with the University of London Air Squadron during my three undergraduate years at Kings College, London.

In 1956, shortly after graduating from Kings with a Special Honours Degree and the (Faculty of Science) Jelf Medal, I travelled to Kenya to establish the Biology Department of the Royal Technical College of East Africa, where I was joined by my great friend John Sale a year later. Our comparative youth and enthusiasm for the natural history of Africa soon led to us embarking on research for our Doctorates with the University of London. Since that time I have researched a huge range of topics all over Africa and India. After 12+ years fabulous years in Kenya I returned to the UK in 1968 to take up an appointment as an Animal Ecologist in the Department of Zoology of the University Oxford. In 1969 I was also appointed as a Tutorial Fellow at St. Peter's College, Oxford, where I remained until I retired in 1995. Indeed I am still closely associated with the College as an Emeritus Fellow. This all seems something of a mystical dream for a former pupil of the East Ham Grammar School for Boys, demonstrating I like to think that Oxford is for "those that dare", backed by their splendid teacher?s and a brilliant Headmaster. I feel sure that most of what I have achieved in Biology has largely been due to those eye-opening years in Kenya, where I met Unity, my wife of 52 years where she became the Nursing Sister at the Halls of Residence until our son Christopher (also a Biologist) was born in 1963. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kenya remains our spiritual home, for without those formative experiences I suspect that I may not have been the recipient of the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of Southern Africa or the Busk Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Several books and a hundred odd papers later????.

Since retiring we have travelled a great deal but with decreasing mobility our passions are reserved for the fabulous Island of Crete and its people, the garden, our pets and above all our teenage grandchildren Jemima and Alexander. The thought of seeing all those old pupils in the glorious countryside of Devon and Dartmoor fills me with anticipation for, in my minds eye you are all still lively young people about to make their way in the world, rather than a bunch of "wrinklies" who look nothing like the images in my minds-eye, slogging up the Gorges Valley on Mt Kenya. I do hope you will come to see what we look like now? I may even be tempted to add a little bit of cabaret to the events.

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