Dr John Farmer was born in Sidcup, Kent, and read Chemistry at Durham University, obtaining a first class honours degree. He stayed at Durham to complete a PhD in organometallic chemistry, which he obtained in 1973. He then joined Borax Consolidated Limited, a subsidiary of the RTZ mining company, a leading producer of borax and its chemical derivatives. He joined the research centre in Chessington, Surrey as a ‘bench chemist,’ working in the environmental area and on the fundamental properties of boron compounds, and eventually became managing director of the centre.
This was a time of change within the Borax organisation and one of John’s main responsibilities was to make the research programme more market-driven. In 1989, John became UK marketing manager based in the London head office, and then, manager of European Marketing Operations, where he found his scientific background proved invaluable.
The Borax organisation underwent a major restructuring in the 1990s involving a rationalisation of its operations in Europe and beyond. John undertook consultancy work for Borax for a while before moving into accountancy, a field he had had always been drawn to. He joined a local practice where he stayed until taking early retirement in 2006.
John joined SCI in 1974 and through his work interests joined the Environment Group (then called the Water and Environment Group) becoming its treasurer in 1981, a post he still holds. In the late 1990s he was invited to join the Finance Committee which also involved membership of, or attendance at, most of the other standing committees and working parties. He is currently a member of the Finance and Investment and Membership Advisory Committees, a trustee of the SCI Staff Pension Scheme and the Society Deputy Treasurer. SCI acknowledged its debt to John by granting him the Distinguished Service Award in 2003.
Outside SCI, John is a Chairman of the Governing Body of Kingston College, and a trustee of four local charities, three of which he is treasurer (he notes that he seems to have been a treasurer for one organisation or another since his student days!). In 2008, he was particularly proud to receive the Kingston Mayor’s Community Award.