Nicholas (Nick) Swatton 1960-2007
22 February 2008
Nick Swatton, formerly Theatres Technician in the Department of Physics, died on 27 December 2007. Steve Neck remembers a valued, cheerful and helpful colleague.
Nick Swatton joined the Department of Physics in 1979 as a Theatres Technician with responsibility for maintaining audio visual aids (AVAs) and helping with teaching demonstrations and conferences. Nick rapidly demonstrated a flair for the job and was soon involved in designing and building new equipment, which helped improve the audio visual aids in the Physics theatres. He was always willing to try something new, and as well as and keeping apace with advances in AVA technology he became heavily involved in designing and building novel teaching demonstrations that greatly helped the students’ understanding of many aspects of physics.
Nick served under a succession of three Physics superintendents – Kevin Tyndall, who appointed him, Derek Flower, from 1987, and finally Steve Neck, from 2000 – who all report on his ability to turn his hand to anything and cheerfully make the impossible happen, often with the words ‘no problem’. Even such mundane departmental tasks as putting up shelves or noticeboards he took cheerfully in his stride.
Nick had a wicked sense of humour and Kevin Tyndall recalls the day one Christmas when he was cornered by Nick and a group of ‘confederates’ and was set up for a ‘This is Your Life’ situation – Nick being the principal organiser.
Nick’s cheerfulness and ability to tackle virtually anything was also evident in his private life where he took an active part in his local scouting group; colleagues frequently came across parts of tents and other scouting paraphernalia he was repairing or altering. Another great interest of his was archery and it didn’t take a lot to encourage him to use this as part of a lecture demonstration, once even attaching hot glass to the arrow before firing it to draw out (very rapidly) a fine glass fibre.
For many years Nick had steadfastly fought serious illness, often with long periods in hospital, but he refused to give in, frequently turning up for work when most of us would not even have tried. Having spent Christmas Day at home, Nick returned to hospital on Boxing Day prior to being transferred to London for specialist treatment – a trip he unfortunately was not to make as he lost his fight on 27 December. Nick was a valued, well-respected and versatile member of staff who is sadly missed. Our thoughts and best wishes go to his wife, Debbie, and daughter, Alex.