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David Woodbridge Obituary

The Wood Technology Society
13 Aug 2020

It is with deep sadness we report that David Woodbridge passed away on Thursday 6 August 2020, aged 84.

David spent all his adult life working in the timber trade, and played a key role in the provision of training and education for the trade.  It was his vocation.

David (third from left) was a committed supporter of the Institute of Wood Science (IWSc) and Wood Technology Society (WTS), and a passionate educator of all things “wood.”

David’s association with the IWSc began in 1962 with evening class studies, and this led to a long and influential relationship with the IWSc that continued after the merger with IOM3, with David serving as a Board Member of the WTS for several years.

David was appointed to the IWSc Council in the early 1980’s, becoming actively involved in the Membership and Education sub-committees. He later took up the role of CPD Officer. 

From 1993 to 2000 David was Editor the world renowned Journal of the Institute of Wood Science (JIWSc). He was also instrumental in editing later issues of the IWSc Newsletter, and launched the successor publication WOODfocus (which he edited for 7 years from 1999 to 2006, and contributed many articles).

In 2000 David was additionally appointed as Director of the IWSc. This was a three year project, though David did return to that role on a temporary basis in 2006.

David was also key in updating many of the IWSc Course Modules, which form the basis of much of today’s wood training.

He was made a Fellow of the IWSc in 1986, and in 2012 he was awarded the prestigious IOM3 Outstanding Contribution Award. 

He retired from the WTS Board in 2014, although his interest in the Wood Technology Society and contributions to the Society activities continued up to his death.

We have received numerous tributes from his colleagues reflecting on David and his tremendous influence:

“I always enjoyed David's sense of humour - even, I should say, a sense of fun - but he was also a very good Wood Scientist and I learned a great deal from him. I shall always think of him as a good friend and mentor, who helped to stimulate my passion for wood science.”

“My memories of David are only good.....he was an inspiration to me on all matters to do with timber....he was the person that encouraged me to work towards sitting on the IWSc Council!  Not only was he a good person, he had a passion for wood science!”

“David was a kind and astute individual, and devoted long hours to the IWSc and WTS. He was particularly notable for his work on maintaining the high standards of WOODfocus. He was highly proficient in the arts and sciences - a real gentleman.”

“David was such a strong fellow and always filled every minute of the day with his so many activities.”

“I mainly remember that it was David who took the excellent wood grain images for the covers of the IWSc’s Journal. Yes, he contributed so much to the Institute.”

“I’ve known David since 1984 when I first joined what was then TRADA. He was always very kind and helpful to me, especially during my early years with TRADA and during my spell as IWSc President.”

“David introduced me to fine Italian wines.  (And somewhat eccentrically, he had a loose floorboard in his dining room, which he'd lift up, then delve into the depths and pull out a bottle of Italian red, at perfect drinking temperature!)”

David’s early years were as a trainee in London and Sweden, followed by working in the shipping/import departments of Thomas Simpson timber agency and then with a timber importer.

During this time David studied at evening classes the IWSc Certificate and Associate courses, at City of London College.  This led to David being appointed an Assistant Lecturer (Evening Classes) to deliver Wood Science courses at the City of London College, especially helping in the practical work on timber identification for the IWSc courses.

He then formed a timber frame manufacturing company in Scotland.

In 1975 he joined TRADA: first as Senior Training Officer and later Manager of the Training Department, where David was key in the provision of visual stress grading courses and other educational projects, such as courses in wood structure, softwoods, hardwoods and panel products.

In 1991 David and a colleague established Timber Tectonics Education Services to provide timber product knowledge courses, and tutoring for the IWSc courses.

David always had a good sense of fun: and he introduced many interesting and novel ways of teaching timber grading and other wood-based subjects during his time at both TRADA and Timber Tectonics.

David had a very active life outside of the timber trade.  A special passion was music and led David in later life to study music and art history at the Open University, where he gained a BA (Hons) First Class and a MA (Music).  He was a proficient cellist.

Our thoughts are with Carolyn and family.

David Woodbridge 1935 – 2020.