Malcolm Scott, my friend and father-in-law, passed away at the age of 86. He was a man who had a diverse collection of talents and interests that often contradicted each other.
Malcolm was a well-respected physicist whose research achieved international recognition but he also had an innate gift for photography, capturing life in rural England. He enjoyed travelling extensively but also treasured his time at home on his smallholding in Worcestershire. He was fascinated by technological advancements, yet, at the same time, disapproved of the exploitative practices of big tech companies, preferring instead to support his local shops, read a good book, and subscribe to the print edition of The Guardian.
Born to Florence (nee Imlay), a shorthand typist, and Harold Scott, who worked in a stockbroking firm in the City of London, Malcolm was evacuated to Yorkshire during World War II. He later spent his childhood holidays in the Lake District, which ignited Malcolm’s lifelong attachment to the region and its Herdwick sheep, a breed that he raised later in life.
Malcolm was an intelligent student and attended Beckenham and Penge County Grammar School in London before earning an engineering degree from the University of Birmingham. He later became a fellow of Harvard University where he studied mathematical physics. During this period, he travelled extensively across Central America and the United States.
In 1963, Malcolm joined the physics department at the University of Birmingham where he pursued his PhD. After seven years, he took a sabbatical in Pakistan. Instead of opting for more convenient travel options, Malcolm drove there in a Land Rover via Turkey and Afghanistan, which highlighted his photography skills. His photographs were later displayed at the Photographers’ Gallery in London.
Returning to Birmingham, Malcolm led the reactor physics MSc course and the medical physics research group, culminating in a highly successful career. His contributions to boron neutron capture therapy, for instance, were pivotal in the development of cancer treatment from one of the primary companies in the field.
Retiring from Birmingham in 1992, Malcolm devoted his time to working with the charity Headway, as well as continuing with his photography. His published works included "A Village Portrait: Leigh, Worcestershire" (2000), "Images of Creative Herefordshire: Its Artists, Craftspeople and Musicians at Work" (2015), and "Pakistan: One Man’s View" (2016). He never stopped travelling, embarking on journeys on the Trans-Siberian railway and from Malvern to Moscow by train.
Even in the final months of his life, Malcolm’s adventurous spirit never waned. Shortly before his passing, he sailed on the tall ship Tenacious, and despite his limited mobility, he even took his turn at the helm.
Malcolm is survived by his second wife, Lillian (nee Somervaille), whom he married in 1998, two daughters, Katie and Talya, from his first marriage to Pam (nee Wilkie), which ended in divorce, and seven grandchildren.