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Prestigious appointment for Sellafield Inspector

ONR would like to congratulate John Wolstenholme (Principal Inspector for Sellafield) on his appointment as President of the Institute of Explosives Engineers.

John Jenkins ONR Chief Executive said ‘We are pleased that John’s professionalism and expertise has been recognised by the Institute in making this appointment’.

John became a member of the Institute in 2004 and took a role on the Governing Council two years later contributing to the council’s responsibility for improving safety standards across the industry. The Institutes other important roles are to ensure the provision of training, provide a route to professional registration as CEng, IEng and Eng Tech with the Engineering Council for all civil and military professionals, and through its forum share learning and experience across industry. Its final role is to be the preferred contact for advice to governments.

The Institutes mission statement is ‘To promote safety in the explosives industry, and to promote the occupational competence, education and professional standing of those who work with explosives and provide consultative facilities for organisations and government departments within the explosives field.

As President, John will progress the long-term strategy of how the institute will develop over the next two years into a world-leading institute as a centre for technical excellence, provision of professional recognition, training and competence.

The Institute has branches in Australia and Singapore, a developing branch in Sweden and hopes to introduce a new branch in Cyprus early in 2015.

The Institute is a member of the Sectors Skills Strategy Group (SSSG) and the Standards Setting Body for Explosives Munitions and Search Occupations (SSB) and the Institute will have a significant contribution to make in enhancing safety through competence in the UK explosives sector.  One of John’s challenges will be to try to influence the European Community through both the EU Excert Programme and the European Federation of Explosives Engineers (EFEE). EUExCert’s aims are to reduce the number of accidents in the explosives industry and enable mobility of the explosives sector workforce. Separately EFEE is working towards the introduction of a European Shot Firing Certificate acceptable in all EU countries.

In many European countries, including UK, a high proportion of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in the explosives sector are nearing retirement. Consequently, it is important to replenish the expertise in this key technological area.  The programme can help create opportunities for UK training providers to deliver training across Europe. There are currently 26 million jobs in the EU that cannot be filled due to lack of skills. To find out more about any of the programmes visit and

John will continue his work with ONR and partially fulfil his new unpaid role during evenings and weekends. His role is similar to that of a Chief Operating Officer and involves a series of visits and events with industry groups and military branches.

ONR encourages its staff to pursue professional development and professional affiliation.

John said he felt very proud, privileged and excited about his appointment and thanked ONR for its support in his professional development. ‘We have an important job to do. The Institute is at the forefront of initiatives that lead to improvements in competence and professionalism of those civilian and military personnel working in the explosives field’.

The Institute of Explosives Engineers is a members-only organisation for all professionals within the explosives industry. The Institute is founded on the diversity of the disciplines practiced by its members and includes HM Armed Forces, Engineers and Technicians, Special effects professionals, Scientists, Academics and Legislators.

The Institute has recently welcomed onto council two younger members of the profession to become actively involved and encourage others in providing a valuable contribution to the Institutes aims. This will contribute to developing their professional careers and experience.

Find out more about the Institute at