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Alumni Obituaries

It is with regret that we announce the passing of the following members of our community.
Professor Derek Imrie
Professor Derek Imrie, died on 13th March 2014. Professor Imrie joined Brunel as a Professor of Physics in 1984. He became Head of Department in 1985, and the Dean of ScienceDerek Imrie in 1989. In 1996, he became Pro-Vice Chancellor, retiring in 1998. During his time at Brunel, he also was Head of a research group undertaking high-energy physics research at SLAC, California, and at CERN, Geneva. After retiring, he developed Parkinson's Disease, and he had been increasingly unwell in recent years. He leaves two daughters and three grandchildren.

DerekImrie v1Professor Peter Hobson, who joined the Physics department in 1986, said "Derek was instrumental in bringing Particle Physics to Brunel, a subject that we still carry out research in, and teach PhD students about, within my research group within the School of Engineering & Design.

"Following his retirement from Brunel, Derek was attached to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as a consultant for several years and played a key part in the development of the Vacuum Triodes that have been deployed with great success in the CMS experiment currently operating at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN.

"Derek was an outstanding experimental physicist and a true gentleman, courteous at all times and with a lively sense of humour. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know and work with him."

Pamela Snook-Smith

Pamela Snook-Smith (Biochemistry, 1977) passed away peacefully on 9 March 2013. She will be missed by many. Pam and I were divorced, but have Pam Snookthree fantastic children Joe (25), Carl (23) and Bethany (20) who organised a truly lovely send off with many standing huddled close together at the back of the large Milton Chapel at Amersham. 

The Funeral Service was held on Tuesday 26th March 2013. I tried to get around as many people as possible but as far as I’m aware the segment of her life that was Brunel Biochemistry ‘75 –’77, was not represented either at the service or the following equally special wake at Hazlemere Golf Club.  If anyone from Brunel was there and I missed you, I do apologise.

If anyone does want to get in touch for more details or just a catch up with what Pam did after graduation please contact me via the Alumni Office on  
By Keith Snook
Building Technology, 1974 – 1977
April 2013

Neil Smith (Physics & Electronics 1985)
Neil originally came from Birmingham until he came to Brunel. He loved University life making sure he made the most of every aspect!

He was part of the award winning show John Latex on Radio Brunel, and was particularly proud of his role as Jane Latex! He was the guitarist in two bands whilst at Brunel – Scientist Toybox and Neil’s in Charge. And sometimes he even persuaded the others in the band to let him sing vocals! It was at a Scientist Toybox concert that I met Neil and only agreed to go out with him because I thought he would be rich and famous one day and because he was wearing proper leather shoes amongst a sea of trainers!
He graduated in 1985, on the day of the Live Aid concert, so was surrounded by the sounds of Bob and his gang blaring from student flats as we made our way to the gym for the graduation ceremony.

After Neil graduated he went to work for Hanovia developing Ultraviolet water purification systems. Then he got the call he was waiting for…from the BBC!! Sadly he hadn’t got the Radio 2 announcer job that he wanted and was instead offered a job working on their telephone systems.

After four years with the BBC he decided he needed a change. We were about to get married and he as they hadn’t offered the job of DG he felt he wanted a more exotic job.  So he started working for Cable and Wireless, running their Caribbean network. During this time he travelled from one end of the Caribbean to the other and could trump anyone who had been on holiday there by having been to even the most obscure island.

After 15 years with Cable and Wireless and the birth of our three children, we decided that another change was called for and we moved to Dubai. We enjoyed a fantastic expat life there, where Neil continued to combine his job and his love of the stage, singing in front of hundreds of people in at concerts in the Burj Khalifffa (the tallest building in the world, where he had designed the telephone systems, as he would tell the uninitiated).

After six years we decided that we needed to get back to reality and totally change our lifestyle. We did what we always wanted to do: we bought a run-down barn in rural Ireland and planned to build our dream house and be self-sufficient.

Neil and I had just started this work when he unexpectedly died in his sleep in December 2012. He leaves behind, not only myself, but also his three wonderful children Grace, Rose and Jack. We are carrying on the work of building our dream in his memory.
Neil never missed an opportunity to live life to the full and packed more into his short life than most people would do in three lifetimes and I am very proud to have known him for the last 28 years.

By Juliette Smith nee Latham ( MMS 1988)
January 2013

Andrew Law (BTec Metallurgy 1973)

Andrew Law spent his working life at Post Office Telecommunications, later to become British Telecom, before taking early retirement in the 1990s.

He lived in Acton until his work took him to Swindon, and played chess first for Acton and later for Richmond & Twickenham before transferring his allegiance to Wood Green.

Andrew was not far below England’s leading chess players in the 1970s and 1980s, and obtained two International Master norms. He was just two games away from a final norm at Wijk aan Zee in1981. In recent years he had not been so active, playing mostly in the 4NCL and making his final appearances in 2008.

Andrew had been a keen tennis player in his earlier years and also excelled at bridge, winning the National Life Masters Ranked Pairs in 2011.

Andrew was modest and softly spoken, with a profound intelligence combined with a self-deprecating sense of humour. He will be much missed by his many friends in the chess world. He died peacefully in his sleep, having been suffering from heart, lung and digestive problems for some years, caused by the inherited condition of Marfan syndrome.
By Graham Lee
January 2013