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84 year old chemistry alumnus reunited with PhD thesis

Dr Oliver Ord’s wish was simple: to be reunited with his PhD thesis. Now an 84 year old resident at the Ponteland Manor care home, Oliver hoped that his wish might come true through its ‘Make a Wish Scheme’.

Oliver's wish led Ponteland Manor staff member, Rebecca Jackson to contact David Fulton, a Senior Lecturer in organic chemistry in the same chemistry department at Newcastle University where Oliver had completed his studies 59 years ago. Oliver studied chemistry at King’s College (the predecessor of Newcastle University), completing his PhD work in 1960 under the guidance of Dr (latter Prof) Francis J McQuillin, a well-known organic chemist of the day.

Oliver then went to join Unilever as a Research Scientist at Port Sunlight before moving to their London head office where he travelled the world visiting Unilever’s many production sites to help improve waste and effluent management. In 1976, he moved back to Newcastle to become the Chief Science Officer at Northumbrian Water, where he stayed until his retirement.

Just before Oliver’s move to Ponteland Manor, his own copy of the thesis was accidently left alongside old documents earmarked for disposal and incineration. Fortunately, librarians Karina Forrest and David Gardner were able to track down a copy of Oliver’s thesis within the 29 kilometres of shelving that makes up the Research Reserve, a state-of-the-art storage facility where the library stores its vast collection of older books, journals and theses. On 10 September 2019, the Philip Robinson Library hosted a meeting day for Oliver, where he was able to view items from the archives and the library copy of his thesis. In a touching conclusion to the day, SAgE faculty liaison librarian, Julia Robinson presented Oliver with a specially produced replica copy of his thesis to take back to Ponteland. It was a privilege indeed for the University to host this day for a very special Newcastle University chemistry alumnus and made a simple wish come true!

Dr Oliver Ord
Dr Oliver Ord reunited with his PhD thesis

published on: 8 November 2019