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Dr Keith Wood Humphreys: 1934-2016 (1952, Natural Sciences)

Keith attended St John’s primary school in Heaton Mersey, gaining a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School. At MGS he thrived, both academically and in sport, but also developed his love of travel, with a month long trip to the Alps.

He took chemistry, physics and maths at A level before taking the Cambridge entrance exams in 1951. He was awarded a major scholarship to Trinity Hall to study Natural Sciences. He was involved in many aspects of College life, including soccer, cricket, tennis and table-tennis. He also joined the chemical, film and union societies. He was awarded a double 1st in chemistry before embarking on a PhD in organic chemistry.  

His successful career in the chemical industry began at Ciba (ARL) Ltd in Duxford, Cambs starting as a research chemist, moving on through marketing and sales to become Managing Director of the Plastics and Additives company.  He had additional management training at Harvard Business School.

In 1982 he moved to May and Baker (part of the Rhone-Poulenc group), and rose to become Chairman and Managing director. Keith was awarded a CBE in 1992 for services to the chemical industry, improving the health and safety record. He was appointed president of the Chemical Industries Association from 1992-94.

He retired in 1995 and took on several non-executive roles during the next 10 years. He still found time to indulge his love of hill-walking, travel, wine and the arts. The highlights were reaching Everest basecamp, and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro aged 73 years! Retirement also allowed him time to spend with his family, particularly skiing in the French Alps where he helped teach his grandchildren to ski.

He died, aged 82, after a long illness, surrounded by his family.

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