Douglas Gifford grew up in Glasgow, attending Hillhead High School, and spent some of his boyhood also in Orkney and elsewhere in Scotland due to his father being a locum doctor. His mother was a teacher of children with special educational needs, and he contemplated a career in school-teaching himself with a brief period as an uncertificated teacher in the highlands before becoming an academic. A first-class honours MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Glasgow led to a Balliol scholarship at the University of Oxford where Douglas was not entirely happy, largely due to his view that his supervisor and other English faculty members cared nothing and knew even less about nineteenth-century Scottish fiction to which he was increasingly drawn as an under-researched area of scholarship. Many of his happiest times in Oxford were spent running, a talent which he pursued for well over fifty years and only gave up when diagnosed a few years ago with a heart arrhythmia, a common occurrence in long-term runners. Read more about Douglas Gifford

John Allen’s interest in marine biology began conventionally when as a child he discovered the marine life of rock pools during holidays on the east coast of England. Thereafter his eventual drive and enthusiasm to pursue a career in the subject defied convention as he developed into a leading world authority on life in the deep ocean.
At an early stage, despite initial enthusiasm for biology he would have preferred to follow his father as an engineer, changing in response to parental opposition and the influence of two exceptionally gifted natural sciences teachers at High Pavement Grammar School, Nottingham, where he undertook his secondary education from 1937 to 1943. After grammar school he was accepted to study for a degree in Biological Sciences at the University College of Nottingham in 1944, where he had a tantalizingly brief exposure to E J W. Barrington’s lectures on Embryology. However, at the end of his first year in university he was immediately called up for army service towards the end of World War II, initially serving in the Sherwood Forester Regiment. Very quickly after basic training he was then transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps, firstly in the pathology laboratory at Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, and then as a Demonstrator in the Department of Hygiene at the Royal Army Medical College. He had by then gained considerable experience in medical biochemistry and parasitology. Even then his peripatetic lifestyle was in full flow and he was, for the last eighteen months of his military service, transferred to the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton Down. Read more about John Allen

After Annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938 John was one of thousands of children from Jewish families who were relocated to the UK as part of the Kindertransport rescue effort. On 10 January 1939, at the age of 14, after saying a tearful farewell to his parents and grandmother, he travelled from Vienna by train with his younger brother Gerald. He arrived in Britain 2 days later and after a short time with his sponsor and a spell in a school in Ealing, he elected to work as a farmer’s boy in Nottinghamshire. There, he was not well treated and after a variety of moves, including different farms and a dairy farm where he was given the responsibility of stock manager, he joined the army in June 1944. In October that year he volunteered for the 3rd Para Regiment, changing his name to Sharpe (as did his brother) so that in the event of capture, he could not be linked back to his parents for fear of reprisals. Read more about John Subak-Sharpe

Simon Gavin George MacDonald (known as Gavin) was born in Beauly, Inverness-shire, on 5 September 1923, but his parents moved to Edinburgh at the end of his first year. He was educated at Craiglockhart Primary and at George Heriot’s (having been first in the school’s bursary competition). There he thrived, sweeping many year prizes and going on to be Dux of the School as well as Dux of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. As well as being a Prefect, in a sign of a move he was soon to make, he was the First Flight Sgt of the Air Training Corps. Read more about Gavin MacDonald

One of the most distinguished Anglican theologians of his generation, The Revd. Canon Professor John Webster served both church and academy internationally, and played a substantial role in the revitalization of the discipline of systematic theology.

Born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, he was brought up in West Yorkshire. Educated at Bradford Grammar School, he specialized in languages and literature, going up to Clare College, Cambridge as an Open Scholar in 1974. He read English initially but switched to Theology at the end of his first year. An outstanding student, he graduated with a First and the Burney Prize and proceeded to PhD study at Clare as Beck Exhibitioner. His doctoral research was on the demanding work of the German theologian, Eberhard Jüngel (b. 1934), whose repertoire, then little known in Britain, traversed New Testament studies, systematic theology, ethics, and the history of philosophy, with major debts to existentialist Lutheranism as well as to the work of the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Through Jüngel Webster moved on to extensive critical and constructive interpretation of Barth himself, becoming one of Barth’s foremost analysts in English. But it was as a theological thinker in his own right that Webster would shine. Read more about John Webster

Professor Helszajn will be remembered as an electrical engineer of great distinction and an internationally recognised authority in the field of microwave science. Through a lifetime of achievement, he attained global pre-eminence in this field as a highly innovative scientist, engineer and educator. He leaves a legacy of a comprehensive series of major engineering textbooks that alongside his sustained writings, experimental works and consultancies have advanced the principles of microwave engineering and influenced a generation of academic and industrial engineers in his discipline. Read more about Joseph Helszajn


William Mordue, better known as Bill by his friends and colleagues, was born in Stanley County Durham. The proud son of a Durham miner, he attended Stanley Grammar School, where he developed his interest in biology. Bill decided to pursue his academic interests at university and became the first member of his family to go on to higher education when he enrolled at the University of Sheffield in 1958. This was something both he and his family were immensely proud of, and as a result Bill had a lifelong empathy with students from working class backgrounds wanting to ensure that they had the same higher education opportunities as those who were more privileged. He read for a BSc in Zoology from 1958 to 1961 and continued his studies for a PhD at the same University from 1961 to 1964, investigating the hormonal control of egg development in the mealworm Tenebrio molitor under the supervision of Dr Ken Highnam. This was the beginning of his passion for entomology and insect physiology, which would become the main research thread of his career. He continued to develop his interests in insect physiology during a 3-year post-doctoral Fellowship, which he also held at the University of Sheffield from 1964 to 1967.  Read more