By Liz White, UT staffHertford, UK-The UK Urethane Group, founded in 1965 as a section of the Plastics and Rubber Institute, under the chairmanship of Dr Jack Buist, is about to be wound up. "Support for the group has been waning … from the late 1990s, due to the closure of virtually all primary British manufacturing for the base chemical for polyurethane, coupled with the consolidation of several flexible and rigid foam product processors," explained Brian Jones, chairman of the group, in a press release from the Institute of Materials Mining and Minerals (IOM3)Jones also pointed to the international exhibitions and global conferences organised by specialist polyurethane trade journals, which he said, "provided a better forum for the raw materials suppliers and equipment suppliers to introduce their innovations." "The original purpose of the group is now fulfilled in other ways," Jones commented. The group-part of IOM3's Polymer Division-aimed to provide a forum for the dissemination of knowledge, technology and expertise in polyurethanes through various meetings, the last one being in Blackpool in 1998. Some twelve Urethane Medals-for achievements which advanced the science, technology or commercialisation of polyurethanes-were presented. Recipients included Dr Otto Bayer in 1980, Karl Frisch, Charles Sollenberger and George Woods. The last medal was presented to Alan Taylor in 1999. "Since that time, the preponderance of collective R&D actively hindered the idientification of worthy individuals and the medal has now been withdrawn," the IOM3 statement said. The Urethane Group's very popular annual Christmas dinner dance is also being discontinued, but local IOM3 groups "have many functions which will be able to cater for the urethane industry," the statement added. In recent times the group has been kept alive by Jones, aided by George Woods, who has been secretary for 35 years and John Johnson of Shell-"who has done sterling work in organising the dinner dances," said Jones. These efforts have led to a positive balance in the group's social fund, which is to be donated to the IOM Benevolent Fund and to Manchester Hospices which have a record of caring for the industry's workforce. "