It was a great honour to assist at the memorial service for Prof Colin Besant, who died suddenly during the summer. The service was an opportunity for friends and colleagues to pay their respects and give thanks for the part that Colin had in their lives and work. Colin was a highly creative engineer, and engineering entrepreneur. He began working to develop nuclear reactors in the 1960s. In the late 1960s he saw the potential for Computer Aided Design for engineering and manufacturing. He also worked on power generation, heat exchange and electro-magnetic imaging. Colin was one of the pioneers of what is now known as ‘the spin-out company’, the way of developing ideas from PhD research into businesses. You can read more about his career in this obituary.
With all memorials – whether for someone with religious or philosophical beliefs – we want to prepare an event that is true to the values and beliefs of the person being remembered. So, for Colin, this was something very traditionally Anglican. He was a member of his local Church and a Church Warden – one of the key elected lay leaders. Yet, with academic colleagues coming from a wide range of world views, we also explicitly say that everyone is welcome, and that we do not presume that everyone has the same beliefs. Those attending are, I hope, then free to use the liturgical space and time for their personal reflections, thanksgiving and farewells. That’s not exactly rocket science. But it is, I hope, a rooted, and open, expression of Anglican Christianity.
For those who are interested, the engine in the picture is an Auxiliary Power Unit for a Vulcan aircraft. This was discovered by Colin in Derby and brought back to the department of Mechanical Engineering for experimentation!
Colin Besant, may he rest in peace, and rise in glory