Rhubarb 2020

ST EDWARD’S r h u b a r b

SAFFERY, HUGH (1936 -2020)

acknowledging that much of his ill health was self-inflicted through his lifelong pipe- smoking habit. By 2011, his eyesight had failed to the point that he had to stop driving (his family maintained that this was no more than three or four years after he should actually have stopped) and it limited his reading to doing crosswords with a selection of powerful magnifying glasses and spotlights. He collected stamps and coins all his adult life, but these hobbies became too difficult for him in the last years. He maintained a long correspondence to the end with a wide circle of friends and former colleagues, resorting eventually to telephone for everything as his vision precluded him from writing (and anyone being able to read what he wrote anyway). Despite an amputation which confined him eventually to a wheelchair, he remained fiercely independent, needing no external help, or care beyond that provided by Val throughout, and remaining until the day he died in the family house in Barry that his father had bought in 1938, and which David and Val had in turn owned since 1966. He always maintained that he would not move from the house and succeeded in this, dying quickly and peacefully at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, but not of the virus. His funeral service, on March 17th was one of the last to be held before such gatherings were curtailed, and the small service at the Barry crematorium was led by Dr Richard Griffiths, his oldest and longest-standing friend, who had grown up with David in the house next door in Barry.

chemical industries to promote excellence in Occupational Health. Medichem is affiliated with the International Commission on Occupational Health and the Medichem Board acts as the ICOH Scientific Committee on Occupational Health in the Chemical Industry, having consultative status with the UN, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Specialised Agencies of the UN (ILO and WHO). David was Medichem Chairman from 1992 until 1995, and he and Val made lifelong friends through this. An obituary, written by one of his close colleagues in the group for their in-house magazine, noted that he was: “a person of high integrity, honesty and humility… [and]… was a wonderfully warm-hearted person with a passion about fostering occupational health among colleagues working in or with the chemical industry in developing countries. At the time this was more so for countries in Eastern Europe which were becoming more politically open. To this end, David was instrumental in the introduction of the Medichem Scholarship designed to assist young professionals from less affluent countries to attend and present at Congresses. This Scholarship proved popular and successful.” David retired from BP in 1995, although he retained a close interest in Occupational Medicine until he died. He attended the annual Medichem conference with Val for many years after retirement (mainly for the scenery and the company) and he and Val were both members of the Welsh History of Medicine society, with a membership of (mainly) retired doctors in Wales. David suffered from some ill health for the last 10 or so years of his life, borne with good grace and a gallows sense of humour, cheerfully

On 3rd April 2020, Hugh Hoseason Saffery (G, 1949- 1954). This obituary was kindly written by fellow OSE John Latham (G, 1949-54) with a little help from Nick Dwelly (G, 1948-55). I enjoyed five happy years with Hugh in Segar’s. He arrived as an Exhibitioner and proceeded effortlessly to the Classical Sixth Form. He was a member of the Harriers Club, for which he earned his Representative’s tie and was appointed Captain of Tennis (there were no matches and the only responsibility of this position seemed to be to collect one shilling from every boy who played!). Saffery’s, an accountancy firm of very distant relatives who were auditors of the Daily Telegraph , helped wth Hugh’s school fees. After leaving Teddies, Hugh enlisted in the Royal Artillery for his National Service, in which he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Having applied for and been turned down by four Oxbridge colleges, the Classics Master, Pat Brims, suggested he try Selwyn, Cambridge, where he was ultimately successful. On meeting his tutor, Hugh stated that he wanted to change from Classics (because he felt he could only aspire to being “the worst of the best!”) to Philosophy, Politics and Economics which was said to be a doddle! The tutor was very displeased but nevertheless Hugh transferred courses and three years later he obtained a Third-Class degree. Upon leaving university, Hugh joined the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham where, I assumed, he would be involved in the manufacture of Ford Anglia cars. In fact, he was learning about main frame computers and after acquiring sufficient knowledge, moved to Los Angeles where he worked


David Williams

the medical PhD – from the resultant thesis he wrote. From 1967 to 1971 he was also a Royal Navy reservist as a Surgeon Lieutenant with HMS Cambria in Sully. A lasting regret was losing a place on the Ark Royal sea trials to (he claimed) a vice-admiral who decided to go at the last minute. In 1980 both BP Chemicals and Dow Corning (two of the Barry plants) offered him full-time posts. David took up the post with BP Chemicals as their Chief Medical Officer for Europe, based in Barry, but with time every month in London at the Head Office, and travelling across Europe to the various chemical plants in the group. The role suited him perfectly; he always said he was far more interested in Occupational Medicine in a complex manufacturing environment, and the role gave him scope to improve the health and working practices of the workforce. He developed close links between BP and St John’s through first aid training and in 1994 was made an Officer of the Order of St John, the organisation that is behind St John’s Ambulance. For many years he was the Treasurer of the South Wales branch, only giving up in 2011 when his eyesight finally became too poor to keep the records up. Whilst at BP he also became the third Chairman of Medichem– the scientific body set up by doctors and scientists working in the

SYMES, JOHN (1936-2020)

On 7th February 2020, John Gareth Symes (B, 1949-1952).


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