Tributes to a key figure in life of Buckingham

Alan Brook, left, with his wife Pat and Robert Secret
Alan Brook, left, with his wife Pat and Robert Secret

A key figure in the life of the the Buckingham and its university has sadly passed away this week.

Emeritus professor of the university’s school of science and medicine, Alan Brook, passed away peacefully on Tuesday morning, 10 minutes into his 90th birthday.

His widow, Pat, told the Advertiser: “I’m so glad that he went so peacefully. We’ve been so happy together.”

Close friend and co-founder of the Buckingham Summer Festival, Robert Secret, said: “It’s very sad news. Alan was one of those people you couldn’t imagine the world without.

“He was a wonderful man, a great scientist obviously and a very, very talented amateur musician himself. He had a tremendous intellect of mind that I just used to marvel at.”

Prof Brook played a very active role in the community, particularly in the musical arena. As well as co-founding the Buckingham Summer Festival, he was chairman of the Buckingham Festival of Music and Drama and president of the Buckingham branch of the University of the Third Age.

He was the instigator of converting the Nonconformist Church in Church Street into a concert hall and lecture theatre, the Radcliffe Centre, and managed to get a grant to have a Steinway Model B grand piano installed.

In 2003 he was awarded the MBE for his services to the community.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1923, Prof Brook spent his research career studying freshwater algae and particularly desmids.

A botany graduate of Kings College, Newcastle, after war service in the RAF, he gained his PhD in 1949 and took up a lecturership at the University of Khartoum, Sudan.

He was later appointed botanist at theFreshwater Fisheries Laboratory, in Pitlochry, Perthshire.

A move to the University of Edinburgh and a lecturership in botany enabled him to continue his interest in desmids.

He was awarded a DSc by the University Edinburgh in 1962 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in the following year.

In 1964, he moved to the US to become professor of botany at the University of Minnesota.

In 1973 he became reader in freshwater biology at the University of Reading.

He moved to the University of Buckingham in 1978 to become professor of life sciences, dean of science and later pro vice-chancellor.

He has written or co-authored some100 scientific papers on freshwater algae.

Even after retirement in 1989, Prof Brook kept a small laboratory at the university.

Prof Brook will be buried on Monday at Olney Green Burial Ground. A memorial service will be held in Buckingham at a later date.