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2007: Norman Tennent and James Nobbs

Norman Tennent: 1995 joint winner with David Littlejohn and Lorraine Gibson and 2007 winner with James Nobbs

"The success I achieved with my co-workers in 1995 (joint winner) and in 2007 was very significant from several points of view.

The existence of this category of awards is I believe of major importance to conservation researchers in the UK. I felt greatly encouraged that my own research was valued by my peers – especially since this category takes account of the relevance to the field, novelty and the quality of the science. These are all aspects that I have striven for in my conservation science career and so recognition of these features in the Plowden Awards is a welcome testimonial that my efforts were appreciated by the field. This is especially important to an individual researcher such as myself. The motivation that the selection process brought, quite apart from the extra fillip of success in the awards, was invaluable for me since I had no feedback mechanism from an employing institution (university or museum) which is normally available as a recognition of ‘a job well done’.

The high profile given to all the finalists was of immense importance to me in ensuring widespread awareness of my research. This would have been difficult to achieve in any other way. Publication in conservation journals by no means ensures the same levels of recognition of the efforts involved as the peer review process and the marvellous awards ceremony instituted for the Plowden Awards. To be a winner was all the more important to me on a personal level because I knew Anna – I can think of no better memorial and benefit to the conservation field than the establishment and continuation of these awards.

The tangible results of the awards are difficult to specify but the 2007 award (for research into colour matching and the problem of metamerism) was undoubtedly a contributory supporting factor in the subsequent approval of a Getty conservation grant to the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, in which my research was developed further.

The intangible results – in terms of the credibility which the awards process gives our whole field, and the support which reaching the finals (let alone winning) gives to the applicants – should not be underestimated."

Norman H Tennent, Professor of Conservation Chemistry, University of Amsterdam