Rare honour awarded to Stuart McDonald
By Lyndon Jones
The Court of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries (WCA) made Stuart McDonald an honorary freeman at its meeting on 1 July. This award is rarely made – this is only the fifth time in the WCA’s 40-year history – and is given to a person of professional distinction who has contributed to the WCA or its aims.
Stuart is an actuary and head of demographic assumptions and methodology at Lloyds Banking Group. He is also a leading member of the IFoA’s COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group and has made a name for himself as a trusted commentator on trends during the pandemic.
The WCA has held virtual events every Thursday since lockdown started. Stuart has been a regular presenter on the work the profession is doing on COVID-19 research, and the award reflects his valuable contribution to the WCA’s members.
Stuart commented: “I am honoured and grateful to have been made an honorary freeman of the WCA. I’d like to thank the Company for this award, and thank those from across the profession who have worked with me through the pandemic.”
Obituary Mark Mitchell
by Anna Bishop
We remember with fondness the life of Mark Mitchell, who died on 19 June 2021, age 43, just a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. Mark was an ActEd tutor par excellence, able to impart the intricacies of annuities, stochastic calculus and Markov processes to students in an intelligible and enjoyable way. Hundreds, if not thousands, of actuarial students studying CM1, CM2 and CS2 (and equivalents in previous regimes) have gained enormous benefit from his caring and creative tuition.
Mark graduated from Cambridge University in 1999 with a degree in maths. He spent the early part of his career at Mercer in Leeds, qualifying as an actuary in 2003. He subsequently worked at Scottish Widows in Edinburgh, where one of his roles was making sure the computer systems were correct from an actuarial point of view, so that letters to policyholders had the right numbers in them. That attention to detail continued in writing learning materials when he joined ActEd in 2007. His passion for excellence was evident in all the work he carried out, as well as the outstanding feedback he received from students.
Mark loved a good puzzle, travelling, Eurovision, Wimbledon and a glass of Cockburn’s. There was delight in the smallest of things, and a wry humour.
Memories of his teaching abound. Mark taught proportional hazard models, for example, via a pie-eating competition, with contestants either succumbing to the hazard of feeling full, or exiting the event for other imaginative reasons. When explaining ‘select’ mortality, he would jump into a notional set of square brackets on the floor, explaining that he was currently “a select life age X”.
Mark’s was certainly a select life, carefully chosen as being one of the absolute best. Much sympathy goes out to his husband Lee, and all of his family and friends, for the loss of such a shining light.
It is with great regret that we announce the death of the following members. We offer our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.
Mr Ivor Kenna, an Associate based in the UK, passed away aged 89
Mr William Davidson, a Fellow based in Scotland, passed away aged 87
What's on the web
A roundup of recent IFoA blogs:
The IFoA has been working with the National Autistic Society to create practical guides to support our members and to raise the profile of neurodiversity within the profession. Here we share the experience of an actuary who prefers not to disclose their autism: bit.ly/3hRGNzS
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Read how the IFoA helped to influence a recent parliamentary report on this issue: bit.ly/3rkQtWF
Stuart McDonald blogs about his experience of the pandemic and how the desire for actuarial analysis went mainstream: bit.ly/3BoBf7G
We’re delighted that NFU Mutual has become the first UK insurer to gain QAS accreditation. Read about its experience of gaining accreditation: bit.ly/2VSEB2i
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