Obituaries 2014

Dr Terry Roberts

Terry Roberts completed both his degrees in chemistry at UCNW. He left in 1967 as part of the ‘brain drain’ to North America where he did post-doc research at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.  He returned to the UK for further research at St Andrews, Scotland. He joined Shell Research in 1969 at their Sittingbourne Research Centre in the Analytical Chemistry Division, where he remained for the next twenty years. These two decades were periods of great success, innovation and productivity as the research labs discovered, developed commercialised and provided technical support for nine novel agrochemicals (three cereal herbicides, a maize herbicide, four broad-spectrum multi-crop insecticides and a rodenticide for professional pest control).

Terry and his team played a key role in the successful development of all of these products by carrying out vital residue studies. The Regulatory process for the development of agrochemicals is demanding, expensive (£50 million) and time consuming (10 years). The technical requirements are enormous with extremely high standards – Terry and his team analysed many thousands of samples of crops, soil and water from all over the world to ensure residues were below a safe statutory level.  Their work had to be conducted to exceptional standards of accuracy using state-of-the-art equipment and methodology, many of which Terry helped to develop and implement.  He soon built-up an international reputation for the quality and excellence of his work.  He delivered papers, wrote and refereed scientific papers for peer reviewed journals and edited several books on the role of xenobiotics in agriculture; books which are regarded as reference standards (see ‘The Metabolic Pathways of Agrochemicals’ published by the RSC).  The British Crop Production Council dedicated one of its recent meetings to his memory as a tribute to him and the significant contribution his work had made.

The Sittingbourne Research Centre was an internationally known and respected research facility for agrochemical innovation. Many academics look down their noses at industrial research seeing it as a poor relation to academia.  However the Sittingbourne site employed many world class scientists in a variety of scientific disciplines (including Sir John Cornforth awarded a Nobel prize for chemistry for the work he did at Sittingbourne). Terry was amongst those top-rate scientists. .

On leaving Shell, Terry moved into a senior management position for Hazelton Laboratories (a contract lab undertaking work for the chemical industry) based in Harrogate. He subsequently set up another .contract research lab for JSC a small American company also in Harrogate.

On retirement Terry returned to North Wales, living in Pentre Berw on Anglesey where he helped Bangor University with student reunions and enjoyed bell ringing and growing his own vegetables. Terry had a quiet unassuming demeanour. He was a very pleasant and very likeable person widely admired for his technical and scientific competence. He will be much missed by Lynn his wife for 47 happy years, three children and two grandchildren and Sophie (his Dandie Dinmont terrier)..

Roger Turner (Ph. D Agric Botany, 1967)


Alan Lloyd Marsh

Alan was born and grew up in Bristol, the younger son of Thomas and Alice Marsh.  After prep school he attended Bristol Grammar School and it was at around this time he started to grow vegetables in an allotment plot, the beginning of a life long interest in horticulture and agriculture.  Alan attended Bangor University between 1948 and 1952, reading Zoology and Agriculture.  Whilst at Bangor he was very involved in sport and was Captain of Athletics in his final year.  To commemorate this Alan recently donated a cup for throwing events to the University, although he was disappointed to learn that his shot and discus records had not been greatly improved on over the years.

After university Alan spent his national service in Vienna before commencing his career as an Agricultural Advisor.  He was initially based in Herefordshire, where he met and married Eileen.  They set up home in Lincolnshire where their two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth, were born.  Following over a decade in North Yorkshire the family returned to Herefordshire in 1980.  Alan retired from the Civil Service in 1987.  His long retirement was filled with activity as he maintained the garden, made wine, listened to classical music, spoke German and managed his portfolio of stocks and shares.  Alan died on the 11th December 2013 and had been digging in the garden only four days before.

Dr Roger Turner

I first met Roger in 1967 when he joined Shell’s Agricultural Research Centre at Sittingbourne. Roger had graduated from Nottingham and had just completed his PhD at Bangor. He applied to Shell after attending a lecture at Bangor by Brian Beechey of Sittingbourne about oxidative phosphorylation. Roger concluded that Sittingbourne must be a good place to work if this sort of research was carried out there.

It was clear that Roger was a very good scientist. He had boundless energy, and he made his views very clear. Roger soon found himself with more responsibilities in research and development on herbicides. He gained very wide respect and this lead to an assignment in Shell’s Agrochemical Marketing Division in London and subsequently to working on all five continents. During this long period in Shell, Roger showed a remarkable ability to get on with a very wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. His mind was very open and there were few who could communicate so easily across disciplines and timescales, from the laboratory bench to commercial application.

Roger left Shell in 1988 and joined Fisons as R&D Director, Horticulture, where he was responsible for new products for North America and Europe. Roger was at Fisons for about 10 years and in the late 1990s he became Chief Executive of the British Society of Plant Breeders. Here he was confronted with two major issues: farm saved seed and genetically modified crops. He was chairman a cross-industry group (SCIMAC) involving farmers, plant breeders, seed merchants and biotechnology companies. He was also a member of the Government’s Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. Roger’s light touch often defused difficult situations when dealing with difficult government ministers, anti-GM activists and a hostile media.

On retirement from British Society of Plant Breeders, Roger applied his experience to related activities. He was on the Board of Directors of Rothamsted and on the Editorial Boards of several scientific journals including Outlooks in Pest Management, Crop Protection and World Agriculture.

He was a dedicated alumnus of Bangor University and was actively involved to the last in supporting the University. In a very recent email Roger wrote “I am getting quite adept at writing obits. Even had Stevie Smith's published in The Times. I suppose it's better to write obits than have one written about oneself. I'm going to draft my own obit for Bangoriad as no one else will”.  Roger we will.

Roger was a devoted family man and thought the world of his wife, Mary (who he met whilst at Bangor), children and grandchildren. We shall remember Roger as a very good scientist and manager, but above all as a terrific family man and a totally reliable and stimulating friend who was great fun to be with. We all treasure his remarkable life.

Clive Boyce

Ian Arthur Colquhoun

Ian graduated from Bangor in 1976 (History and Archaeology). After serving 25 years in Northumbria police he returned to working in archaeology. He was very active in community archaeology - teaching and leading walks in Northumberland and Co. Durham.

At the time of his death he was a tutor and PHD student at Durham University. A Masters bursary has been created at Durham in Ian's memory and we await confirmation that Ian will be awarded a posthumous PHD in Irish Bronze Age Swords.

Carol Colquhoun

Gwilym Lloyd Edwards

On April 27, 2014 Gwilym Lloyd Edwards died at the age of 91. He was born and raised in Bala, Meirionnydd. After the death of his parents he gave up farming and came to Bangor where he graduated with Honors in Latin in 1954 and in Welsh in 1955. From college he went to the National Library, Aberystwyth to work on Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (A Dictionary of the Welsh Language) and remained there as an assistant editor and then sub-editor until his retirement in 1987 when he and his wife Annie moved to Llanuwchlyn, near Bala. He gained an M.A. from the University of Wales in 1962.

He competed many times over the years at the National Eisteddfod, winning several times. He published variety of works. In 2007, he published his autobiography “O Lethrau Cefn Gwyn.”   He continued to research and write almost to the end and published his last book “Iaith y Nefoedd” in 2011.

Moira Farnworth

Dr James Buchanan

Jim touched everyone he met with his incredible smile.

When I was the President of UCNW Diving Club he came to me during Freshers’ Week and said he was doing Marine Biology and therefore wanted to learn to dive, so he came to the first session at Bangor baths the following Monday. He was a mature student and had poor eyesight! He asked what he had to buy and I told him the University Club provided most things and that I had heard you could get prescription masks which was a big help to him!

He graduated from Bangor in 1972 in Botany and Marine Botany and went on to Huntingdon and Stirling University to study Fish Pathology where he received his Doctorate. He then went to Napier in Edinburgh. He lived overlooking Roslin Chapel and was an accomplished sailor, having a yacht in Loch Fyne. We were lifelong pals and shared lots of advances in Marine Biology and Mariculture. He was the Chairman of the Scottish Salmon, then Halibut farming. He started off in the Royal Navy and did several tours on the North Atlantic Patrol in rough seas.

Nothing was too much trouble for him and he kept us all laughing. He had a great sense of humour and thought the world of his 3 daughters. A great loss.

David McCreadie 1970, Zoology with Marine Zoology

Ieuan W Evans

Ieuan Evans, who graduated in Biochemistry and Applied Zoology in 1979, died at home in Tregarth, Bangor, on June 21, aged 57, after a short illness.

Ieuan was brought up in Prestatyn and attended Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph. His late father Tudor Wilson Evans was a teacher and well-known writer in the Welsh language.

He met his wife, Kath, a student in the philosophy department, in 1978, and on graduation they decided to settle permanently in the area.

Ieuan worked for Gwynedd County Council, firstly in the footpaths section of the highways department, then in digital mapping after learning computing skills in his spare time and encouraging the department to adopt new technologies.

In 1981 he was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party and became increasingly active, drafting policy documents, speaking at party conferences, and appearing on radio and TV. He was elected to represent the SDP on Arfon Borough Council, and in the 1983 General Election he was the parliamentary candidate for the SDP-Liberal Alliance in Ynys Môn.

When local government re-organisation loomed, he focussed more on his career, which took him to Liverpool, then to a software company in Alderley Edge. As companies were taken over and merged, he eventually became internal systems manager for Northgate Information Systems, a multi-national company with its head office in Hemel Hempstead.

In December 2005, there was a huge explosion and fire at the Buncefield oil storage depot next door to Northgate’s head office. Every window in the building was blown out and the offices were wrecked.  It was a very demanding time for Ieuan as he led the re-build of the company’s systems. The potential consequences of data loss were huge, and not just for the company; amongst the file servers in the wrecked building were those relating to the Labour Party, and a managed network for hospitals in East Anglia. One of the company’s specialities was running payrolls for other organisations. It was a huge challenge, and Ieuan was justifiably proud of what he and his team achieved. Despite this incident happening in December, when payrolls are usually run earlier than usual, every payroll for all of Northgate’s customers was run on time. The firm became widely known as one that had successfully passed through a major physical disaster.

His work had involved a great deal of travelling, but his home base was always Tregarth and he took early retirement in 2010, with the hope of spending more time pursuing his many interests, which included fishing, gardening, golf, cooking and skiing.

Ieuan had an incredible capacity for understanding new ideas, retaining information and solving problems. More than 30 years after graduating, he could still discuss the sciences he studied in detail.

Kath Evans

Dr Barbara Saunderson

Present and former staff and students from the School of Modern Languages will greatly miss Dr Barbara Saunderson, former Lecturer in French at Bangor, who passed away on 27 July 2014. 

Barbara was a loyal and generous friend to the School and University throughout her time at Bangor, but especially during the years after her retirement.

Born in 1938 in Liverpool, where she grew up, Barbara moved to Bangor to study French at the University College of North Wales, and graduated with First Class Honours in 1959. She then proceeded to postgraduate research, and was appointed Lecturer in French in 1964 at Bangor, where she remained until her retirement in 2004. Her PhD examined social and political thought in the writings of the anti-Encyclopédistes before 1770, and she also published articles on colonial slavery, Frossard and Italian Renaissance depictions of the crucifixion. 

Throughout her career at Bangor, Barbara was especially dedicated to her students, and spent considerable time and energy supporting those in difficulty. In particular, she took it upon herself to visit students during their year abroad, ensuring that they were settling well into their new environment. 

Even after retirement, Barbara took great interest in the development of younger generations of linguists, and sponsored a number of academic prizes awarded to Modern Languages graduates. Indeed, only two weeks before she passed away, Barbara attended the SML graduation ceremony in order to award prizes to this year’s graduates. She was also a well-known figure elsewhere in the University, particularly due to her painstaking cataloguing of the University’s art collection, which she continued to carry out right up until her death. 

Barbara’s generosity and selflessness extended to a great number of charitable and worthwhile causes, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), children in Africa and choral scholarships at Bangor Cathedral, amongst many others. Her particular dedication to the RNLI, for which she funded two lifeboats – including Llandudno’s current inshore lifeboat – resulted in her being awarded the institution’s Gold Badge in June at the Barbican Centre.  

In retirement, Barbara would regularly visit the School of Modern Languages, and her positive outlook on life, warmth and sense of humour were much appreciated by colleagues who had worked with her as well as those who had taken up posts in the school since her retirement. She still had a pigeon hole in the Modern Languages office, and one of the most important things to be found in it was a box in which staff would regularly leave used stamps which she would collect to help raise funds for the RNLI.

Above all, Barbara will be remembered for her selfless and giving nature; everyone who knew her has a different story to tell about one of her countless charitable causes. Barbara touched the lives of many in numerous different ways, and will be greatly missed by all those who knew her.