Saturday, 4 April 2009

RIP Bob Boucher

Today was the funeral of Bob Boucher, VC of Sheffield University from 2001 to 2007. He died very suddenly just over a week ago, which came as a shock to everyone who knew him. I first knew Bob back in the early 1990s when I worked in Sheffield Medical School and he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Chairman of our Academic Development Committee. At the time the University was going through a difficult financial planning process, and to the rest of the University the Medical School seemed to be an enormous drain on resources - all these academic staff treating patients instead of doing research. Bob was tasked to find out what was happening, and he and I worked closely together over a number of years. He was extremely bright, very fair and very kind, and became a great friend and supporter of the school. During this time we travelled a lot to the Far East where we were helping to establish a Medical School, and Bob and his wife Rosemary were extremely good company - working hard during the day, and enjoying themselves in the evening - I have many fond memories of that time.

The main memory I have of Bob is his inability to tell a joke without laughing. He would set off with best intentions, often at a presigious event such as the Graduation Dinner, and as soon as he started the audience would know what was about to happen. Soon he would start to giggle, then he'd start to laugh, and by the time he got to the end of the joke - if he ever did - the audience had usually forgotten how it had started, but were laughing hysterically with him.

Today's funeral was very sad, but conducted beautifully with poignant tributes from friends and family. He was a lovely man and will be very sadly missed. All of our thoughts are with his family.

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