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Bernard Mallows MBE


“Bernard was a star.” Since his death in June 2020, that is the epithet which has been most frequently used by colleagues to describe the University’s former Director of Health and Safety Services.

That was shorthand for recalling that Bernard was instantly likeable; had an insuppressible sense of humour; was professionally on top of his game; was a supportive manager of people and was probably one of the most popular, widely-known, and respected members of staff of the University for over 20 years.  Although of course Bernard had all the necessary legal authority to control what was undoubtedly a complex variety of safety challenges – from resolute professors who would resist interference with the way in which they ran their laboratories to lively students who inevitably couldn’t be bothered with safety rules – Bernard rightly chose to secure co-operation “more by coaxing than by scratching”. It worked. He earned, obtained and deserved, everyone’s respect.

In the wider world, he was also well-known and well-regarded. By force of personality and reputation, Bernard played a significant role in the professional safety associations of Welsh and UK Universities. Indeed, throughout the 1990s he was secretary of the UK Universities’ Safety Association [now USHA]. So too in the South Wales professional safety community:  Bernard was latterly Vice President of the South and West Wales Safety Group, of which he had been a member for forty years playing a variety of roles. The current chairman, Mr Phill Jones (to whom I am indebted for permission to draw on information contained in another obituary) wrote that “South and West Wales Safety Group would not be the success that it is now without the efforts and hard work that Bernard put in.”

Bernard Mallows came from Coelbren, but had the good sense to move to the Swansea Valley, living in Glais. He started his career as an analytical chemist in the steel and aluminium industries before progressing to Health and Safety and in 1983 was appointed the Director of Health and Safety at [the then] University College, Cardiff. Retirement in 2006 did not end his involvement with his chosen profession. He became a consultant and trainer, where his gift for putting people at ease was such an asset.

Sociable in the extreme, as Mr Jones wrote: “if you wanted someone to sit by you at a dinner it was Bernard.”  During his time at the University he was for some years the popular and effective Warden of Llandaff House hall of residence in Penarth. He was awarded an MBE in 1992 for his services to Health and Safety, an accolade which was both well deserved and received with much rejoicing in the University. A keen sportsman and follower of most sports, in particular Rugby Union and Association Football and a seasoned, loyal follower and supporter of Swansea City AFC, he played football in the Welsh League - not an easy league in which to play but a tough and a semi-professional one.  He did this up until the age of forty.

Bernard was very much a family man, and a man of his community. Small wonder that, in these strange Covid-19 lockdown days when attendance at funerals is strictly limited, Bernard’s wider family, his friends, his former colleagues and his neighbours lined the streets of Glais as the funeral cortege passed by. Very many others from afar were prevented by travel restrictions from attending but sent condolences. Such was the esteem in which he was held.

D Gareth Lewis