Colin Peter Fairhurst (1942 - 1994)

Dr Fairhurst will always be remembered by his contribution to ecological studies of myriapods: life cycles and activity patterns in schizophylline millipedes, an elegant, innovative and exciting account of their anamorphosis, life cycle and behaviour in the field and in the laboratory. The completion of his thesis coincided with the inception of CIM at the First International Congress in Paris, 1968. Small sections of this were published in this Congress, and latter at Hamburg and Gargnano, but by far the greater part still remains unpublished. Already, Colin was putting his heart and soul into another venture, the British Myriapod Survey. He met the originators of the British Isopod Survey and with them developed a scheme for collecting more detailed habitat data along with the bare geographic records. Cards for woodlice and myriapods were printed and the Surveys were launched at the inaugural field meeting of the British Myriapod Group in Devon in April 1970. This was a major undertaking and involved Colin in checking identifications, organizing workshops to facilitate reliable diagnosis, developing computer programmes for sorting data and publishing reports from time to time.

Colin's heart and soul went into teaching; he had lectureships at Manchester College for Education (1965), the University of Keele (1967), Stockport College (1970) and finally the University of Salford (1974). He left his mark in all these institutions, entering wholeworthy into many activities within Biology and further afield. At Salford, which had been one of the first Colleges of Advanced Technology, he considered it his duty to purse research programmes in the applied field. Initially he had made a characteristically lively and helpful contribution to the M. Sc. course in Environmental Resources. Later he became involved in the study of river blindness (Onchocerciasis) and vector in tropical Africa and used his experience of collecting and processing habitat data which he had gained with the myriapod survey. He also launched into a survey of Dutch Elm disease and its bark beetle vectors. Dr Fairhurst's long list of publications in both these fields began in 1980. Not surprisingly he had to relinquish his overal commitment to the Myriapod Survey in 1982 after thirteen years; he was succeeded by Douglas Richardson.
Dr Fairhurst had many research students working on myriapods, tropical diseases and the Elm bark beetle project along with an army of research fellows, scientific officers and technicians, all of whom testified to his personal encouragement, stimulus and help. Reacting quickly to the financial crisis in Universities he had successfully obtained funding for his various projects from international agencies, commercial enterprises and local governments. Over a ten years period at Salford he had secured support totalling over £400,000 and was author or one of the co-authors of some 40 publications in addition to those on myriapods. One might think that no men could enter so many fields, cope with such an array of post-graduate students, undertake journeying to all quarters of the globe, serve on numerous committees (including University Senate and Court) and yet maintain such an impetous in his lectures at the University and many places beyond, and still be held in high esteem by those he taught, advised or supervised, but Colin did: he was certainly a workaholic and latterly was gaining stimulus and confort from alcohol in larger measure than many of us, his colleagues; but then he had more commitments to meet than most of us, just a few too many I urged on several occasions. A student who had enjoyed his personal support and encouragement commented that Colin was so busy fighting other people causes and sorting out their problems but was not so good in tackling his own. Fortunately, we can remember him from the not too distant past as a highly enthusiastic man of ideas and action and also as a devoted family man, devoted husband and father.

Colin burst into my life in 1964 having studied at the then Liverpool Polytechnic for an external London degree and worked with me on the field life cycles of Tachypodoiulus niger and Ommatoiulus sabulosus; he found, and studied populations of the former at Gibralta Point in Lincolnshire and of the latter at Newburgh Warren, Anglesy. He was not a qualified rally driver for nothing, it was both hobby and necessity, as was his City of Guilds' Certificate in car mechanics. Many of his colleagues in Manchester valued his help and friendship; he valued his company and was buouyed-up by his presence, enthusiasm and verv. He it was who persuaded me to offer hospitality at Manchester to the first independent International Congress of Myriapodology; this was an excellent meeting which owed much to his organisational ability. Myriapodologists will remember his lively contributions to all aspects of the next six congresses.

Colin married Joan Margaret Lewis in 1968. Many will recall their hospitality at their home near Crewe and at "Watling", at Kelsall in Cheshire; the fun, the music, the singing, Colin with his guitar and Joan leading the singing. Also, their Christmas party at Fox Howl (the field centre in Delamere Forest where Joan was Warden). It was fitting to sing Sydney Carter's hymn "The Lord of the Dance" at Colin's funeral service, to recall the good days and pay tribute to a remarkable and loveable man. Colin is survived by his wife Joan and his sons Peter and Jan. We share their sadness and offer them our sympathy and good wishes.

J. Gordon Blower, April 1995

Copyright © Centre International de Myriapodologie, Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz Senckenberg Logo