It is with great sadness that I have to let you know of the recent death of Roy Thomson.
Roy was well known to many of us in the ALG and was awarded the title of Honorary President at the 2021 AGM, following his retirement as Treasurer (a post he had held since 1997). Roy has been the most stalwart supporter of the ALG acting as Chair and, later, Treasurer, organising conferences and seeing that the papers presented made it to publication and were thus available to a wider audience. Together with his wife Pat he was usually to be seen at ALG meetings and on visits and he organised several, including the memorable visit to Skokloster Castle, Uppsala and Sigtuna in Sweden.
Roy started his career with a degree in the Chemistry of Leather Manufacture at Leeds University. Following this he worked in research and technical services and in 1968 he was appointed Works Director at the largest lambskin leather tannery in the UK.
It was in 1994 that Roy was appointed Chief Executive of The Leather Conservation Centre in Northampton and it was in this role that many of us knew Roy. Indeed it was Roy who got me into leather conservation. As a leather chemist he contributed significantly to spreading a deeper understanding of the science of leather and related materials among the conservation profession, greatly advancing the achievements of John Waterer whose work was done post-World War 2 and in the 1950s.
Roy had published many articles and booklets and was joint editor (together with Marion Kite) of the Butterworth-Heinemann book "The Conservation of Leather and Related Materials". He had a great interest in, and knowledge of, the history of leather manufacture and the leather industry; also in the education of conservators.
Roy was awarded a PhD by The University of Northampton in 2013; his thesis was entitled "The Role of Leather Science and Technology in Heritage Conservation" and was a compilation of about 12 papers he had written during his career, with a commentary on their relevance to Heritage Conservation. He reviewed the papers retrospectively, demonstrating how knowledge of the subject had developed since their publication.
Roy will be remembered with great affection as a man of great learning who was able to explain the sometimes complex chemistry of leather tanning in a way that made it not only intelligible but even fun. He would answer questions with great patience and had a fund of stories, many of which demonstrated his great sense of humour.
Our thoughts are with his wife Pat, and their two children.