This is the story of a father seen through the eyes of a son who grew up in his shadow. A father who was, in late 1940, quite suddenly thrust into notoriety consequent upon the vagaries of a congenital heart condition and a Luftwaffe bomb; this shunted him from Nuevo Riche cafe owner’s son, to shop floor worker at the Austin Motor Company.
It was here he emerged as a national trade union figure and celebrity. Ironically fate Intervened once again when the son joined him there in 1957 shortly after completing his National Service with the RAF. Here the son worked on the other side of the fence after motor magnate Sir Leonard Lord sponsored him as an undergraduate trainee at the Austin Motor Company. Some years later whilst the son was working in junior management at BMC as a process automation engineer, his colorful, then boss Frank Griffiths, the Chief Production Development Engineer quipped:
“Hey young Dick One you two buggers might have to go.”
Taking this advice, the son joined the then new University of Aston in 1966, where whilst working as a successful academic he was awarded a PhD for research in 1976. Later whilst serving as President of the Aston local Association of University Teachers (AUT) he emulated his father when he challenged the “Thatcher Government’s” economic sanctions designed to force retrenchment on Britain’s Technological Universities in 1982. He did this by leading an illegal secondary picket of the university’s governing Council and in so doing saved many colleagues jobs. However, this action on his part compromised his personal position and so he left the university to spend four years restructuring engineering, at Salford Royal Technical College. He left them a legacy of a unique 2+2 degree in Manufacturing Engineering and advanced CAD/CAM courses for Industry. This appointment was followed by seven years as a radical academic manager at Leeds Polytechnic and its successor institution, Leeds Metropolitan University, where he led the Introduction of devolved academic structures. He retired at 60 and devoted his time to public service in local education institutions and also his professional body the lEE, where he held both the Chairmanship of the Yorkshire Centre and the Chair of the local manufacturing Section between 1994 and 1996.