Memorial Service for a well loved and much respected engineering entrepreneur

Colin with Turbine editedIt 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

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Hungry for Justice – Carols with an interfaith dimension

1959610_10152369210973417_439517485_n  Regular readers will have guessed I have a blog backlog – created by the move of the Chaplaincy Multi-Faith Centre to a new location.

So, a little un-seasonally, here is news from our Carol Service back in December.

It was a pleasure to welcome students from the Ahlul Bayt Society (Shia Muslim) who were leading the ‘Hungry for Justice’ campaign.

Students from the Ahlul Bayt and Catholic Societies joined together to take the collection – raising £270 for the campaign. A great sum from a service that celebrates the birth of Jesus – in the poverty of a stable and about to flee with his family as refugees.

They were also raising awareness of poverty in the UK. The money went to Fair Share Community Food Banks,  the Trussell Trust and Al-Mizan Charitable Trust.

Al-Mizan is  ‘the only Muslim grant-funder to individuals in the UK, regardless of their faith, culture or background.’ Trussell Trust is a Christian charity with a similar  ethos.

All this alongside glorious music from Imperial College Choir. And thanks too to students from Cath Soc who helped celebrate the international dimension of life at Imperial by leading prayers were led by in Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Spanish, French, Polish and English.