Category Archives: Obituaries


Condolences for Will Simpson

Words by Helen Buhler

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Will Simpson on 7 July 2021.

Sadly, and unexpectedly, Will Simpson, the University of Kent’s second Librarian, died on 7 July  at home. Since succeeding Stephen Darlow, Kent’s Founding Librarian, after four years as his Deputy Librarian, Will’s time in the best office on campus was characterised by forward-thinking and efficient management, together with a deep dislike of red tape and paperwork. He was a major figure in the development of KLACS, Kent’s online circulation system, written by the Computing Lab’s Rod Saunders, which came into use in October 1976, and was the first in a British university library. This was eventually replaced by Cambridge’s cataloguing and circulation systems.

Will was also instrumental in fostering a relationship with the Cathedral Library, and was (together with Naomi Linnell and David Shaw) involved in the Cathedral’s online catalogue of pre-1801 printed books. The Templeman’s extension on its eastern side owed its initial planning to Will, aided by Margaret Smyth.

Always approachable and helpful, Will made the Templeman a very pleasant place to work. I have happy memories of those years. Needless to say, his retirement was marked by the Templeman’s best and biggest party!

Our condolences and thoughts go out to June and to their children, Harold, Lucy, and Victoria.

May Will rest in peace.



Condolences for Dr Jingqi Miao

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Dr Jingqi Miao on Friday 2 July.

Dr Miao was appointed as a Lecturer at the University in 2001 and she retired two years ago. She was a valued member of the School community and the sad news of her death has been deeply felt across it.

Dr Jingqi Miao

Jingqi joined us at a challenging time, when subjects like Physics were facing a shortfall in Higher Education funding. After taking up her academic post at Kent, Jingqi was immediately confronted with the task of increasing undergraduate student recruitment in Physics and Astronomy, a role she relished and made her own. The increase in recruitment that she helped generate set up the School on a path of substantial growth over the next decade.

She was successful in making a powerful case for renewing funding from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council to establish “Space School” which quickly became an annual SPS tradition. This event ran in the summer every year from 1999 (and was only suspended in 2020 due to COVID).

Jingqi’s research was appreciated across the world. Her work on the origin of stars, using computer simulations, will hold a special place in the future development of the subject. Her enthusiasm for her research was unwavering and transmitted to her students and collaborators.

All of her colleagues will always remember her as kind, modest, hardworking and devoted to her family. Well-liked and respected by all, she was the kind of colleague that made the School a better and happier place to be in.

A fuller tribute to Dr Jingqi Miao, by Dr Silvia Ramos and other members of the School of Physical Sciences, is available on the School website.


Condolences for Cynthia Hawes

One of the University’s very first employees, Cynthia Hawes, died in the Kent and Canterbury Hospital just before Christmas, having suffered a stroke at her care home in Wye. Many Former Staff Association (FSA) colleagues will remember her as a diminutive but feisty lady, who was always kind and encouraging while letting people know exactly what she thought about… anything.

Cynthia’s first contact with the University was in April 1963 when she was interviewed for the post of secretary to the first Vice-Chancellor, Geoffrey Templeman, at Westgate House in St Dunstan’s Street, which was all there was of the University at that time. Having worked for the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (as it then was), Cynthia was ideally qualified for the post, and she was duly appointed. As the Vice-Chancellor’s secretary, Cynthia was based first in Westgate House and then at Beverley Farm before moving to the Registry building when it was completed in 1970. After Geoffrey Templeman retired in 1980, Cynthia continued to work for the new Vice-Chancellor, David Ingram, until transferring to the Graduate Studies Office as an Assistant Registrar. She spent the early years of her retirement caring for her widowed father, who lived near to her in Harkness Drive.

Away from her professional duties, Cynthia was a keen rock climber in her youth and later a dedicated hill walker until arthritis curtailed these activities. She was a long-serving singer in the University Choir and the Canterbury Choral Society and a regular and devoted worshipper at the Cathedral. After retiring, she trained as a volunteer welcomer at the Cathedral and spent her Friday mornings patiently explaining to visitors – often in passable French, though she was not a linguist – what it was they were looking at. She was particularly interested in St Gabriel’s Chapel in the crypt and knew a great deal about the murals there.

Cynthia was born in North London in 1934 and spent the war years as a child in Barnet. She was a pupil at the Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in Barnet before going to Exeter University where she read history. She never married, but she was very close to her father and brother, and she had a wide circle of friends. She has a richly deserved place in the collective memory of the University as one of its founder members whose job placed her at the very centre of all that was happening in those early years. May she rest in peace.

Contributors: Mary Fox, Jane Millyard, John Butler


Condolences for Anne Seller

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Anne Seller, one of the first members of our academic staff, on Wednesday 11 November.

Anne Seller was appointed to a Lectureship in Philosophy in 1966, and helped to shape the profile of philosophy at Kent. Her speciality was political philosophy.

She was a member of Keynes and played an active part in the life of the college. She also played a central role in setting up the Women’s Studies graduate course at Kent.

Outside the University, Anne Seller also made an enormous contribution. Locally, she taught philosophy for children, working at the Orchard School, and served as Lady Mayoress of Canterbury in 2001-2.

On the national stage, she played a lead role in the Society for Women in Philosophy and took an active part in campaigning against siting Cruise missiles in the UK.

She spent a year teaching at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, where she continued to be a frequent visitor, and held a visiting appointment at Mother Teresa Women’s University in south India

A fuller tribute to Anne Seller, by Professor Richard Norman, Professor Sean Sayers and former student Professor Miranda Fricker FBA, is available on the Department of Philosophy webpages.

Canterbury campus, Senate view

Condolences for Dr Ian Stone

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Dr Ian Stone on Friday 10 July 2020.

Dr Stone was appointed Administrative Assistant in the Academic Division of the Registry in May 1978. He was then appointed Assistant Registrar in 1982 and by 1985 was Senior Assistant Registrar and Faculty Administrator for the Natural Sciences Faculty. In 1990 Dr Stone moved to the new Research Grants and Contracts Office, as Head, and worked there until he took early retirement in the mid-1990s.

Dr Stone then moved to the Isle of Man and, a scholar of polar studies, became Emeritus Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, being editor of the journal Polar Record for over ten years and publishing more than 60 articles.

Many University colleagues have expressed their sadness at Dr Stone’s death and have looked back with happy memories at a greatly esteemed and entertaining colleague, a very supportive manager and someone who was always ready for a competitive game of squash.

Dr Jeremy Ovenden, former Director of Planning and Student Information, writes: ‘Ian was one of those real characters that you are privileged to come across in your working life. Always entertaining, he delighted his colleagues with his little eccentricities and headed up a happy and motivated office. Yet beneath that exterior was an intelligent, knowledgeable and caring individual and I was grateful for his guidance on many occasions. He will be missed.’

Dr Stone will be remembered with immense fondness. The University expresses its condolences to his family.


Condolences for Gary Blundell

The University is very sad to report the death of Gary Blundell who has worked at Kent for more than 30 years – most recently as an operator and service desk analyst in Information Services.

John Sotillo, Director of Information Services writes: ‘Gary joined us in July 1989 and has given almost 31 years of dedicated service to the department and University. Many colleagues across the University have benefited from his thoughtful and measured support and this was recognised on a number of occasions through the departmental award scheme and at a University long service award event in 2014.

‘Gary’s most impressive achievement has been the wonderful feedback from customers. Those he helped really appreciated his patience, care and sense of humour. He was always willing to ‘have a quick look’ no matter what the issue, and as a result always highly appreciated by those he helped. He was an asset to the University and will be sadly missed.’

Funeral arrangements

Gary’s funeral will take place at Barham Crematorium, on Monday 13 July at 14.40. You can view the ceremony via webcast on the day, and for up to seven days afterwards. The login/order ID is 38968 and the password is hxpewadp. Further information is available in these webcast instructions from Wesley Media.

Gary Blundell (centre front, in navy shirt) at his 25th long service celebration


Kent logo

Condolences for Moreen Biron

Moreen Biron, a retired Tonbridge Centre tutor, passed away at home on Monday 9 December 2019.

Moreen’s broad knowledge of architecture, design and the decorative arts inspired students for over 30 years since the Tonbridge Centre was built in 1984. Her energy, enthusiasm and kindness was boundless, and she achieved much in a long life. Moreen made many friends through her association with the University of Kent, and she will be fondly remembered by all who worked with her or were taught by her.

Staff interested in sending condolences to her family, or attending her funeral (likely to be in mid-January 2020), should send cards internally to the Tonbridge Centre or email


Hong Kong

Condolences for Sir David Akers-Jones

Staff, students and alumni have expressed their deepest condolences at the recent passing of Sir David Akers-Jones, one of Kent’s most prestigious and important alumni.

During his long career, Sir David Akers-Jones served in many important posts in the Government of Hong Kong. He was the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong from 1985 to 1987, and was also Acting Governor of Hong Kong.

Sir David Akers-JonesSir David started his studies at Kent in 1966, the year following the University’s inauguration. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Sir David received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from the University in 1987, and continued to play a very active role in the Hong Kong Alumni Association.

Sir David’s support of the University was both longstanding and far-reaching and included  the foundation of the Sir David Akers-Jones Hong Kong and China Fund in 2010, designed to support students wishing to study at one of Kent’s partner institutions, or to undertake a work placement in Hong Kong or mainland China.

We feel immensely proud to have had the opportunity to benefit from Sir David’s broad experience, wisdom and generosity over the last six decades and we remain committed to continuing to support the important work in internationalisation between the UK, China and Hong which Sir David was so invested in.

Anthony Manning | Dean for Internationalisation

You can see comments from current and former staff, students and alumni on the influence of Sir David’s support for the University on the Development webpages

Open dome - Observatory - Beacon Project

Condolences for Kaz Krynicki

Sadly Dr Kazimierz Krynicki died of a heart attack on 18th July at the age of 88. Kaz was lecturer in Physics at Kent from 1964 until his retirement (about 1995) although he continued to be associated with The School of Physical Sciences as an Honorary Fellow well into his retirement.

He came to London in 1962 on a rare visiting postdoctoral scholarship from an Iron curtain country, having grown up during the war in occupied Poland and graduated from Krakow University. He would tell us of his friendship at his University with a young colleague who was then Chaplain, later to become Pope Paul. His research blossomed with Dr Powles at QMC London and he moved to Kent with him when Powles became the foundation Professor of Physics at Kent in 1964. His research throughout his career was concerned with exploring the liquid state and studying molecular motion using the techniques of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Relaxation. He also helped to set up the first physics and chemical physics courses at Kent and subsequently taught widely across the undergraduate curriculum, contributing significantly to the development of our astrophysics teaching. For many years he was a leading light in the student astronomical society and looked after the first observatory on the roof of the original Physics building as well as other campus facilities for observational astronomy. He will be remembered as a kind and most enthusiastic colleague and teacher.

Professor J.H.Strange

Emeritus Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Kent

Condolences for Jessica Ashdown

Friends and colleagues at the University were sorry to hear of the death of Jessica Ashdown, who died on 4 August 2019.

Jessica started to work at the University in 1988 as Secretarial Assistant in the Registry, Academic Division.  In 1990 Jessica was appointed as Personal Assistant to the Registrar and by the time that she left the University, in 2000, Jessica had worked for three different Registrars.

Jessica will be remembered as a wonderful colleague and a kind and gentle person who will be greatly missed.

Jessica’s funeral is on Tuesday 27 August 2019 at 12.30pm in Blean Church, with a reception afterwards at the Tyler Hill Memorial Hall.  The Registry flag will be flown at half-mast on that day.