I only had a few interactions with Seymour as a person, while I worked at UCL, but since leaving I’ve come across much more of his work as a scientist. I’m very sorry to hear there won’t be any more of it nor of him.
Phd students at MSSL
I first got to know Seymour in 1984 when he started his 3rd year undergraduate project at MSSL and I started by phd. I used to drive him from London to MSSL and back on a daily basis, later on with Duncan and others, until he got hold of his Dad’s second hand car. I got the impression that the commuting was a small price to pay for being able to live in London, even if Seymour and Duncan occasionally arrived at Clapham to be meet me only to have to return home because I overslept (late starts being normal in those days, as a student). On one occasion, I was driving Seymour and maybe Lars Ulander to MSSL and swerved to miss a duck in the road, with the result that we landed in a front garden, having gone through a hedge. Seymour liked to tell that story when I was around to hear it again (and again…). Unlike me, Seymour stayed on at UCL and built on his early research, developing an impressive global reputation in his field. He had a healthy initial scepticism towards research that is a sign of a good academic and he was always useful to talk to. My thoughts are with his friends and colleagues at UCL and especially with his family.
Kim C. Partington
Seymour was my PhD supervisor. His enthusiasm for studying sea ice was infectious and I remember really looking forward to starting.
I always felt like Seymour was on my side and really wanted me to succeed. He would get excited when I came into his office with new results and we’d contemplate the next steps. He seemed very keen to give me every possible opportunity to develop as a scientist. At conferences he’d always make sure we all knew which sessions he’d be at and where everyone was going for dinner. I think someone said he was the ‘glue’ between people and I agree with that. Even outside work he was always interested in meeting new people and I remember him chatting away to friends of mine when we all happened to be in the same place. He also made me feel proud of my achievements.
Right from the beginning he talked a lot about Fiona and Imogen, he was extremely proud of you both. I remember him bringing in Imogen as a little baby and how he often described her as ‘really good fun’ - I think this was a way of not sounding too soft but the way he said it showed how much he felt for her. As time went on he talked about choosing her school with Fiona and then how she was finding it.
One of the most noticeable things about him was his generosity. If he could help you with something, he would. He gave and lent things without a second thought.
I’ve never been to a funeral like Seymour’s, so many people and so much emotion in the air. I learnt so much from him about science, generosity and loving your family and friends, passions and job. Seymour you inspired and made possible some of the most important experiences in my life and you will influence many more, thank you.
My Cousin Simba
I don’t remember meeting Seymour but I know it was a long time ago, the photos of my older cousin holding a tubby baby and the date and inscription on the back prove that. I do however, have very early memories of the legendary oldest cousin of the family and the awe in which we all held this amazingly independent, clever, cheeky, unconventional and sometimes very annoying member of our gang.
A true mentor, my cousin “Simba” (a pet name given to him by his Gran which he hated and we therefore used mercilessly as kids) taught me so much ……… how to make beans on toast, the formula to create a never ending spirograph pattern on his new ZX81, how to get away with having the messiest bedroom ever and of course, the meaning of life (otherwise know as Radios 4’s Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy).
Later on these valuable lessons in life extended to, which tube stations didn’t require tickets, the best night bus routes, the fact that it was possible to go to work the next day having sat up all night listening to Pink Floyd and an interesting selection of beverages including the infamous “Baileys and Tequila” cocktail, not to mention, how to set up home in the back of an ancient beige Sierra when in between flats.
Ok, so that’s just some of the funny stuff, more difficult to put into words, is the generous, resilient, good humoured and sensitive side to my elder cousin - the stuff that one tends to take for granted until you think back over the years. The family celebrations and get togethers when he would just turn up from some far flung travels with gifts like my treasured Genesis album, bottles of champagne or some quirky new gadget that you never knew you needed. The hours sat in the pub putting the world to rights or the long trips, which he would share, to visit sick grandparents and his laid back nature which enabled him to see the good in everybody.
Sitting here in Egypt now, having finally gathered my thoughts, I am wondering why it’s been so hard to add some words to this wonderful and lasting tribute to my cousin Seymour. Perhaps it’s partly the distance that makes it all feel so unreal, the sadness of having been unable to join so many friends and family for a final send off but maybe most of all a regret that over the past few years we have seen so little of each other.
I didn’t really know so much about the important work that Seymour was doing until now reading all his tributes and obituaries and more sadly, I only saw a couple of times what a wonderful and doting father he was to Imogen. I hope in years to come, I might be able to make up for that and be able share with her more stories and memories of her lovely Dad.
Someone once said “It’s the lives we encounter that make life worth living” - Seymour you were definitely one of those lives. My thoughts are with Imogen, Fiona and my aunt Veronica.