Tributes to former Harpenden councillor and Rothamsted Research scientist

Richard Bromilow, a former scientist who has died

Richard Bromilow, a former scientist who has died - Credit: Photo supplied

Tributes have been paid following the death of a ‘top class’ scientist who was an expert on pesticides, and served on the Harpenden town council.

Richard Bromilow, who died aged 69 on May 8, previously worked at Rothamsted Research, where he was regarded as a respected scientist.

As a result of his acclaimed research as a chemist investigating the behaviour and toxicology of pesticides in soil and water, Richard served for several years as a member of the now defunct UK’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

This organisation provided independent advice to the government on the science behind pesticides, and helped to inform decisions over pesticide regulation.

A long-standing friend and former colleague at Rothamsted, Geoff Bateman, described Richard as a social person who “loved to play bridge. He will be missed by a lot of people he socialised with.”

Richard started work in the chemical liaison unit at Rothamsted in 1971, initially working on aspects of the behaviour of soil applied chemical pesticide.

He was a key researcher in a group whose work and findings instigated a large number of scientific papers, book chapters, grants from industry and government departments, gaining international recognition along the way.

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A spokesman for Rothamsted said: “With his excellent knowledge of pesticide behaviour and his analytical mind Richard was an obvious choice to represent Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) on the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, a role that he filled conscientiously for many years and one that he also carried out on the EU Standing Committee on Pharmaceuticals – Pesticide Residues.

“Between 1978 and 1982 Richard spent a total of six months at the Biological Institute, Sao Paulo, Brazil, which collaboration led to the first of his PhD students arriving from Brazil, and his close association with the many Brazilian visitors to Rothamsted in more recent times.

“Richard was an extremely logical, methodical and meticulous scientist and his students all received an excellent training in scientific research.”

Richard was also a very active member of Rothamsted in non-scientific ways. He was largely responsible for the planting design of the water garden that was behind the Rothamsted’s conference centre until 2010, while chairman of the woodland advisory group.

He had a great knowledge and love of plants and trees - ornamental and wild - and although he only had a small garden at his Harpenden home it was stocked with very interesting plants.

Richard was also chairman of the Rothamsted Badminton Club for a long time and played to a very high standard even after he damaged the ligaments in one of his knees while playing football.

He was a member of the Tennis Club and the Rothamsted Walking Club of which he was a regular walker until his death and for which he led an annual walk around the reservoirs at Tring.

His knowledge of birdsongs and calls was apparently ‘quite amazing’ and he could identify birds for his co-walkers long before anyone saw them.

An active member of the Liberal Democrat Party, Richard served a term on the Harpenden town council, where his responsibilities included maintenance of the common, and the establishment of a well-marked nature trail around the common with information boards.

The spokesman added: “In his work he was direct and uncompromising which is what is needed to be a top class scientist with the evidence to support his or her views. With people he was always kind and considerate. Richard will be missed and remembered for many years.”