Dr David Balfour, 1933-2015

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Former Friockheim man, Dr David Balfour, who was well-known in the world of nuclear physics, has passed


Born on August 10, 1933, the youngest child of John and Evelyn-Christina of Lily-Bank Street, Friockheim; he followed his siblings Evelyn, Mona and Gordon and attended the village school.

He later attended Arbroath High School before going to St Andrews University to read physics.

While at St Andrews, he was a keen football player - playing as a goalkeeper - where his skills resulted in a professional offer to play for Dundee United. He chose instead to pursue his academic career and went on to Glasgow University where he achieved a doctorate in nuclear physics.

At Glasgow University he met his wife, Olive. They moved to Aldermaston where he worked, utilising his nuclear physics training.

He next worked for the Institute for Research and Development (IRD) in Newcastle. During his time there he did pioneering work on the development of lasers, which at the time was featured on the BBC technology programme ‘Tomorrow’s World.’

He helped develop lasers for use in many fields from medical to military and industry too. His scientific achievements were rewarded in 1971 when both he and his elder brother Gordon (who had also graduated from Glasgow University with a doctorate in nuclear physics) were made fellows of the Institute of Physics. Whilst in Newcastle he had three sons and later sadly lost his first wife to cancer.

Just before moving from Newcastle he married his second wife, Joan, making a combined family of five children.

His career moved on to technical directorships at Edwards High Vacuum, a part of the BOC group in Crawley, Sussex, and at Seiger gas detection a part of the Zelweger group in Poole, Dorset. Whilst at Sieger he played an important role as a gas detection technical specialist in Lord Cullen’s enquiry in to the Piper Alpha disaster.

In retirement he kept busy with bird watching and volunteer guiding of groups visiting Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

Although he worked away from Friockheim all his adult life he always loved to return and he maintained close links to the area primarily via his sister Mona and her family.

Mona was married to Ernie Taylor, the Friockheim undertaker; who better to help maintain close links with all the goings on in his home town?

Dr Balfour passed away on Thursday, April 30, and his funeral will be held on Thursday, May 21, at 3pm at Poole Crematorium, Dorset.