Kendall McDonald dies
Having applied his journalistic skills as Managing Editor of the London Evening News newspaper, McDonald turned his working hand to the world of wrecks after becoming hooked on sport diving in the early 1950s.
As one of the British Sub-Aqua Club’s earliest members (number 23), McDonald did much to foster training and active diving within his own BSAC branch and as a member of the club’s National Diving Committee.
He played a key role in organising the second World Congress of Underwater Activities in London in 1963.
Outside the club, McDonald had a large influence in publicising the growing sport through press, television and radio. For instance, he wrote and presented Britain’s first TV series about diving and was one of the first journalists to dive on the wreck of the Mary Rose in Hampshire’s Solent.
McDonald served as BSAC Chairman from 1975 to 1977, after which he carried out more overseas diving than before. He reported from destinations including Florida, the Bahamas, Caymans, Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos, at a time when few British divers holidayed abroad.
Following his chairmanship of the BSAC, McDonald remained an honorary life vice-president of the club.
Amongst specialist press, he was a regular contributor to BSAC publications and to the club’s magazine Neptune. He continued to contribute to the magazine’s descendant, DIVER, up to 2011.
He is the author of some 30 books, including the Diver Guide series on wrecks around the coasts of Britain, still sold through Underwater World Publications.
McDonald won the BSAC’s Colin McLeod Award in 2009 for his contributions to diving publications. In the same year he was elected to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
He enjoyed living at his 18th century cottage at Thurlestone in South Devon, surrounded by his collection of some 800 wreck books and other documents. He was taken into care for the last two years of his life, finally succumbing to pneumonia last weekend.
McDonald’s wife, Penny, pre-deceased him by four years and his son, Kevin, by six years. He is survived by his daughter, Joanna, and grandchildren Samantha and Ross.
Individuals who would like to pay their respects are welcome to attend a remembrance service at All Saints Church in Thurlestone on Friday, 24 January at 3pm. The service follows a private cremation.
Cards or other written messages can be sent to Joanna Acourt at Cradles Cottage, Thurlestone, Kingsbridge TQ7 3NE.
A fuller appreciation of Kendall McDonald’s life in diving and wrecks journalism will appear in the March issue of DIVER.