Lives Remembered: Derek Broome

The information technology expert Derek Broome was the only child of one of the famous Rolls-Royce engineers of the 1930s and '40s and a local Tory socialite. Born in Derby, from an early age Derek demonstrated he would be different. Sent away to a boarding school he hated in Ely, he discharged himself at 16 and turned up at the Rolls-Royce factory gate in Derby asking to be taken on as an apprentice. As works manager his father (who would continue in this post during the production of Merlin engines for Spitfires and Hurricanes taking part in the Battle of Britain) was consulted on whether the "young Broome" should be taken on. The old man gave his permission in full knowledge of the fearful row which would ensue at home that evening.

The post nearly proved his downfall in May 1941. Aged 19, he was taking instrument readings in the back of an Avro Manchester test aircraft when this underpowered and unreliable prototype of the Lancaster bomber, hit a tree on landing in Shropshire with an engine on fire. The pilot was killed, but while Derek was burnt on his hands and face, he and two others survived.

After a period of recovery that year, Derek once again confounded his parents, taking a commission in the Royal Navy, serving as a sub-lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm on board the Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable. He flew in Swordfishes and later Corsairs. During this time his ship took part in some of the most fearful naval action against the Japanese. On a number of occasions the Formidable was subjected to kamikaze attacks, which left Derek with a very pragmatic and practical view on life and how lucky he had been to survive.

At the end of the Second World War, Derek took the opportunity to go up to his beloved Oriel College at Oxford, where he acquired a lifelong love of reading and an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. On leaving college he started work in the engineering industry and in 1951, while working at ICI, met his future wife, Valerie, who he married in 1957.

After two unsuccessful attempts at winning the Clayton and then the Erdington constituencies for the Tories in 1950 and 1951 respectively, Derek started to forge what turned out to be a long and successful career in the telecommunications and electronics industry. In the early 1960s he played a key part in Arnold Weinstock's team at GEC which swallowed and dissected the larger and more conservative AEI. An aggressive takeover, it was regarded as groundbreaking in its time. The merger resulted in many plants being shut and jobs lost, but led to survival of the electronics industry in the UK, at least for a while. As a result of his efforts, Weinstock appointed Derek to be Managing Director of a GEC Subsidiary, Reliance Systems Ltd.

In 1965, Derek relocated with this company from London to Wellingborough, and he lived in Northamptonshire with his family for the rest of his life. Following five successful years at Reliance, Derek took up the position of Managing Director of Computer Technology Ltd, which made technically advanced micro-computers in this burgeoning new industry. He left CTL in 1979 to spend the rest of his career working with a series of medium-sized companies in the role of freelance company doctor.

In 1981 he helped establish the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee (PITCOM) to build understanding between the industry and politicians. He served as Programme Executive of this body for 12 years and actively participated in events for over 20 years, until he was into his early eighties. His challenges to the Conservative Party thinking on telecommunications helped shape the agenda to liberalise the market which he knew so well.

Derek and Valerie enjoyed the last years of his life sailing off the west coast of Scotland, a pastime they had enjoyed since the 1950's. Always the radical, he had time in retirement to ferociously champion the causes he believed in, whether it be open systems, protesting against the local airport or challenging his MP.

Derek Broome died on 8 June 2009 aged 86 from the complications of prostate cancer. He is survived by his devoted wife of 52 years, Valerie, and a loving family of four sons, four daughters-in-law, three grandsons and seven granddaughters.

Toby Broome

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, family member or colleague, please send a piece of no more than 500 words to Obituaries, 'The Independent', 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, by fax to 020 7005 2399 or by email to obituaries@independent.co.uk. We reserve the right to edit copy for length and style

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories
Ashya King: We need to stop being cowardly about death

We need to stop being cowardly about death

Ashya King's story has made us confront the idea of terminal illness, in an age when we've lost the ability to discuss how we face our final days
They talk the talk, but do our leaders have the stomach to face up to the Russians?

They talk the talk, but do our leaders have the stomach to face up to the Russians?

Nato has a commitment to defend the Baltic states, unlike Ukraine. But those in charge seem less than committed, says Rupert Cornwell
Heaven on wheels: Meet the skateboarding padre

Heaven on wheels: Meet the skateboarding padre

Skateboards are no longer just for kids, the oldies are getting in on the act too
Can breakdance divert the young men of Tunisia from the killing fields of Iraq and Syria?

Can breakdance save the Arab Spring generation?

Sarfraz Manzoor gets down with the B-boys (and girls) of north Africa
Face of an angel, but has Cara Delevingne the talent to act?

Face of an angel, but has Cara Delevingne the talent to act?

A film based on the Meredith Kercher murder is a challenging first role for the supermodel