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Arthur Lockyer

We are very sorry to have to inform members of the death, on 20 January, of Mr Arthur Lockyer, aged 89, former Secretary to the School of Medicine.

Born in Northern Ireland, Arthur James Pierce Lockyer studied at Kings School, Canterbury and then at Downing College, Cambridge, where, alongside his diverse academic interests, he was also a keen athlete and became an expert in jiu-jitsu. He graduated BA in 1940 and then served for seven years in the Army, attaining the rank of captain. Four of those years were spent in the Middle East, where he was able to apply his linguistic talents and his enviable eye for detail to intelligence work and, later, to administration on secondment to the War Office in Egypt. He gained fluency in both French and Arabic during this time and was to maintain a strong interest in the language, literature and culture of the Arab world.

On return to civilian life, Arthur settled in Staffordshire, where he worked in a commercial office, before his appointment, in 1951, as administrative assistant to Dr Divine, the then senior administrative officer of the School of Medicine in Thoresby Place. He can have had little idea of the great changes that would take place during his stay at Leeds: at that time the annual intake of students was sixty; by the time Arthur Lockyer retired almost thirty years later, this number had risen nearly three-fold and the Worsley Building had been opened to accommodate the increase in activity. Clinical facilities expanded proportionately, the most notable aspect of this being the development of St Jamess as a major teaching hospital, with students undertaking placement work not just across the city but throughout the Yorkshire region.

Arthurs title was soon changed to Secretary to the School of Medicine. He never sought the limelight, but was nonetheless sought out for his understanding ear and his wise and informed counsel. Arthur was privy to the confidences of generations of students and staff. Unfailingly generous and sagacious, he was steadfastly loyal both to the School and to those individuals who put their trust in him. He kept in touch with many former students over the years, and they with him, and was always pleased to hear of their professional and personal successes. He was also possessed of an excellent memory for names and faces, and for those important personal and procedural details that are so valuable in supplementing the official record. He was always particularly concerned to ensure that the high standards of the School remained unblemished and that no detail related to examinations was ever missed. With characteristic fair-mindedness, he would gently and tactfully introduce into the deliberations about any student whose performance was under question any nugget of favourable information.

Whilst devoted to his role within the School of Medicine, Arthur Lockyer also made the time to pursue his academic interest in the Arab world through formal postgraduate study at the Universitys then Department of Semitic Languages and Literatures, and through the networks he built up himself with like-minded individuals. He had tremendous physical as well as intellectual energy, and always kept active, whether striding through the corridors of the School of Medicine, or across his beloved fells and Pennine hills; activity which continued after he took early retirement in 1980. Even after retirement, however, his work for the School continued, and his knowledge of both its history and its students proved invaluable in the organisation of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the School in 1981, which he stayed on to support. After retirement, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Medical School, the University conferred upon him a Life Fellowship, a very rare distinction for a member of the academic-related staff.

Considerate, patient and impressively competent, Arthur Lockyer was held in unusually high regard by colleagues and students for his quiet but peerless professionalism and for his many estimable personal qualities. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him during his long and active association with the University. He is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Kay and their son Michael and his family.