Win Swift, 1926-2011
5 April 2011
Win Swift, a former technician in the Department of Biochemistry, has died. David Yates, formerly Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry, offers this appreciation.
Win Swift joined the Department of Biochemistry in April 1975 as a technician, working in the busy first-year teaching laboratory, D20. Her duties included washing glassware, laying up the classes and administering the laundry of lab coats for the department, as well as running a thriving tea club for other technicians in the department. Win’s cheerful character, commonsense outlook on life and willingness to engage with others made her a popular member of the laboratory team from the start. She attacked the mountains of dirty glassware as soon as she arrived, and the drying cupboards were soon filled with gleaming flasks and tubes, all thoroughly rinsed in distilled water. She was generous to a fault on the provision of endless cups of tea and coffee to technical staff and to demonstrators in the laboratory, though in latter years health and safety considerations meant they had to retire to a safe place to enjoy their beverages!
Win’s commonsense approach to life and her hospitality made the washing-up room a social centre for technicians, and chats with Win over coffee about life and work created a tremendous sense of cohesion among technical staff in the department. Win unashamedly ‘mothered’ the younger technicians, and gave them advice, comfort and sometimes, when she was stirring a pot of tea, a show of ‘tough love’ in the form of a hot teaspoon on a tender part if their conversation became too risqué! Win valued her family life, and walks along the Dorset coast with husband Bryan gave her great happiness. Win was always grateful for what she had, and reminded us all of our blessings in this life.
Sadly, in 1987, Win’s husband Bryan died at the young age of 61. Win returned part-time to resume her role in the teaching lab, and continued there until she retired in August 1991. After retirement, Win joined several local clubs in Backwell, and was a generous and committed mother and grandmother. She also worked as a volunteer in a charity shop for Break, an organisation helping vulnerable children, adults and families.
Our sympathies go to her children, Bob and Jane, and grandchildren, Michael, Marc, Thomas and Jenny, for their loss. Win was an excellent technician, a surrogate mother and agony aunt to a generation of technicians, and will be remembered with great fondness by all who knew her in Biochemistry.