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Bernard Frere

As, sadly, many members will know, Mr Bernard Frere, retired Technician in the School of Chemistry, died on 6 November 2012.

Bernard Frere came to the University in December 1978.  His earlier career had included technical appointments with the Coal Tar Research Association and Sandoz Products; in the latter post, he had been responsible for introducing Gas chromatography into the company’s quality control processes.  He settled quickly into his new duties at Leeds, proving himself a technician of all-round practical ability, who also brought originality, foresight and adaptability to his work.  He had extensive responsibilities within the teaching laboratories in Physical Chemistry, setting up equipment and experiments, advising students and maintaining a database of their performance and progress in the laboratories. 

Building on the expertise he had acquired in his earlier appointments, Bernard also looked after, and provided guidance on the operation of, a sophisticated array of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment.  He took an increasingly important part in research projects utilising these facilities, providing expert advice on analytical techniques and developing appropriate methods to deal with new problems.  He worked in close collaboration with a number of research groups, including those headed by Keith Bartle, Don Baulch, Neville Boden, Tony Clifford, John Griffiths and Norman Taylor.  The value and significance of his contribution to the research projects in which he was involved was acknowledged in his being named as co-author of a number of scientific papers.  Similarly, he instructed undergraduates in the Physical Chemistry laboratories on all aspects of chromatographic and gas chromatograph-mass spectrometric analysis, and advised them on interpretation of the data they produced.  He also had close professional links with a number of other departments, notably Colour Chemistry and Fuel and Energy.  Bernard was somewhat of a ‘rough diamond’ as far as students were concerned; at first rather to be feared but later to be regarded (and with affection) as someone who had heaps of common sense and always could be relied on for good advice.

During the course of his time in the School, Bernard Frere became a source of considerable knowledge of, and expertise in, IT matters.  In the early years of his appointment, his participation was very helpful in the introduction of computer-controlled experiments into undergraduate teaching programmes.  Later in his career, he was a key member of the IT support group encompassing both Chemistry and Colour Chemistry; among his other activities in this area, he advised postgraduates on computing matters including word-processing, spreadsheets and databases.

In recognition of his expertise and increasing responsibilities, Bernard was promoted or had his merit recognised in other ways on several occasions in the course of his career.  He retired in 2003, having been throughout his twenty-five years’ service a highly respected and popular member of the School.

Bernard is survived by his wife, June.

The funeral took place on 20th November.