OBITUARY: Sir Alan Wilson

Paul Girolami's obituary of Sir Alan Wilson [9 October] rightly draws attention to his combination of distinction in both the academic and industrial worlds, and cites the example of the Industrial Fund for Education, writes Lord Bullock.

I would like to add a second example. As a result of a chance meeting in 1957 on the SS Queen Mary, crossing to New York, Wilson became interested in the plan for the foundation of a new college at Oxford with a commitment to offer half its places in science and mathematics. His interest as always was accompanied by practical help. The operation to secure business support for the Industrial Fund was kept in being to raise the funds needed to create St Catherine's College. Wilson not only recruited Sir Hugh Beaver, then chairman of the CBI, but with his rare qualification of scientist and industrialist, was able to open the door to a score of the leading British companies.

It is no exaggeration to say that his advice and support were crucial to the foundation of St Catherine's. This was recognised at the time by the Oxford University when it conferred the honorary degree of DSc on him and will never be forgotten by the college which was only too happy to elect him as a Honorary Fellow.

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