Gill Memorial Medal Award

Gill Memorial Medal Award (Edward Leonard Gill 1877 - 1956)

BirdLife South Africa’s most prestigious award is the Gill Memorial Medal Award, which is awarded for outstanding lifetime contributions to ornithology (the study of birds) in southern Africa.

The inaugural award was presented to Jack Winterbottom in 1960, and the most recent recipient was the late Les Underhill (2017). The list of recipients includes a very renowned group of southern Africa’s distinguished ornithologists, including Philip Clancey, Roy Siegfried, Richard Brooke, Warwick Tarboton, Richard Dean, John Cooper and Adrian Craig.

BirdLife South Africa will send out an annual notification inviting and announcing the closing date for nominations for the Gill Memorial Medal Award each year.

Enquiries can be send to

document Gill Memorial Medal Award Call for 2019 Nominations (96 KB)

Procedures and Criteria

Any member of BirdLife South Africa can nominate a candidate and each nomination shall be seconded by at least one other member of the organisation. It is not acceptable for a person to nominate or second their own candidacy. Nominations shall include an appropriate motivation, the candidate’s CV, and a list of the candidate’s relevant achievements, which most frequently shall be in the form of publications.

Members of the Selection Committee can nominate candidates.

The Chairman of the Selection Committee shall be the Chairman of the Executive Board of the BirdLife South Africa.

If a member of the Selection Committee is nominated for the award, that member shall step down from deliberations in such cases.

All nominations shall be sent to the HR Manager of BirdLife South Africa. All nominations shall be received by the HR Manager.

The Selection committee shall comprise the Honorary President, the Chairman and the CEO of BirdLife South Africa as well as the Director of the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology and one other individual who shall also be a recognized ornithologist, selected by the Chairman.

The members of the Selection Committee shall vote on the nominations.

  • Where there is a single nomination, the candidate must be positively supported by two-thirds or more of the Selection Committee members.
  • Where two candidates are nominated, the one supported by two-thirds or more of the Selection Committee members shall receive the award.
  • Where more than two candidates are nominated, voting shall have several iterations whereby the lowest scoring candidate/s is/are eliminated after each iteration until only two candidates remain for the final poll.
  • The members of the Selection Committee may abstain from voting for one or more candidates at any stage.
  • In all cases, the winning candidate must be positively supported by at least two-thirds of the Selection Committee.
  • The Chairman of the Selection Committee shall have a deciding vote where necessary.
  • It follows that the medal shall not be awarded if the nomination/s fail to receive the requisite support.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the Selection Committee may decide to award medals to both of the top two scoring candidates. In such cases, one award shall be made in that year and the other in the following year. The Chairman of the Selection Committee shall advise the Selection Committee members of this unusual option at the time of the poll of the final two candidates.

The deliberations of the Selection Committee shall be treated as confidential.

The results shall be forwarded by the Chairman of the Selection Committee/HR Manager to the Board of Directors, BirdLife South Africa for approval.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors shall inform the necessary parties of the outcome and, where positive, shall award the medal at the next Annual General Meeting of the organisation, which determines the year of the award.

The recipient shall give a Gill Memorial Medal Address at the Annual General Meeting.

The travel and accommodation costs of the recipient’s attendance at the Annual General Meeting shall be paid by the organisation.

The award shall be reported in the organisation’s publications and the Chairman of the Selection Committee shall provide an appropriate biographical account of the recipient.

The content of the Gill Memorial Medal Address shall be published, either in full or in an abbreviated form, in at least one of the organisation’s publications (Ostrich and African Birdlife). The final decision in this regard shall lie with the editors of these publications, as guided by the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation.


For more information, please contact Isabel Human at BirdLife South Africa on (+)27 (0)11 789 1122 or email



Recipients of the Gill Memorial Medal Award

1960 - Jack Winterbottom *
1964 - Gerry J Broekhuysen *
1966 - Jack Skead *
1970 - Pat Hall*
1972 - Phillip Alexander Clancey *
1975 - Gordon L Maclean *
1976 - W Roy Siegfried
1980 - Con Benson *
1984 - Michael P Stuart "Miles" Irwin*
1985 - Mary K "Bunty" Rowan *
1988 - Richard K Brooke *
1992 - Ken Newman *
1996 - Warwick R Tarboton
1998 - Terry Oatley*
2008 - Ian Sinclair
2009 - William Richard John Dean
2010 - Alan Charles Kemp
2011 - Peter Roy Barry Steyn
2012 - John Cooper
2013 - Robert James Minchin Crawford
2014 - Adrian Craig
2016 - Philip Anthony Richard Hockey *
2016 - Leslie Gordon Underhill

* Denotes deceased