Leighton Greenham 1930-2007
8 January 2008
Leighton Williams Greenham, formerly Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Bacteriology and Virology, died on 28 August 2007 after a short illness. This obituary was written by Professor Alan Linton and Dr Gilbert Howe.
Leighton was one of the earliest graduates of the Bristol Veterinary School. His special interest persuaded him to intercalate a year to study Bacteriology during his undergraduate course, for which he gained a BSc, and he then qualified as BVSc in January 1956. He subsequently joined the Department of Bacteriology to assist in teaching Microbiology to the veterinary students. At that time the teaching of Virology was in its infancy, and in order to gain expertise in this field Leighton spent several years at an institute in The Netherlands which specialized in producing vaccinia virus vaccines. On his return he took responsibility for teaching Virology to the veterinary students as part of their course in Microbiology. Later he was assisted by another veterinary graduate, Terry Hill, and by a medic, Susan Clarke, thereby extending the teaching of Virology to the medical students. All three headed up a research team working on the Herpes Simplex virus. It is to Leighton therefore that the setting up of Virology in Bristol can be attributed. He made valuable contributions to a standard science textbook, Microorganisms – function, form and environment edited by Lilian Hawker and Alan Linton (1971), in chapters on ‘Structure, Biology and Classification of Viruses’ and ‘Microorganisms and Invertebrate Animals’.
Leighton had many interests outside the Department. He became a University Bedell in 1966 and eventually, in 1992, a highly successful Marshal: on retirement from this role in 1995 he presented his successor with a US Marshal’s badge, a characteristically Leightonian touch. Outside the University he was an enthusiastic yachtsman, becoming Commodore of the Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club, and on one occasion took one of our external examiners to experience the vagaries of sailing in the Bristol Channel. After retirement he made significant contributions to local government, being elected a Councillor for North Somerset at the age of 65: as chairman of the education committee he became responsible for reorganization of local education following the demise of the former Avon County Council, and the system he created is now recognized as a model, drawing in pupils from Bristol. He was also instrumental in helping to plan the marina development in Portishead docks.
He was highly popular with his students and colleagues, and his energy and scholarship were always accompanied by an irrepressible sense of humour: when Leighton was present laughter was never far away. We remember him with deep affection and express our sincere condolences to his wife, Valerie, and all his family.