Each year the organising committee of Vacuum Symposium UK seeks nominations for the Harry Leck Memorial Medal. The Medal is awarded for distinguished contributions to British scientific research and/or related scientific/technical communities, in the field of Vacuum Science and Technology.
The medal has been established to honour the memory of Professor John Henry Leck, known to his friends as ‘Harry’.
Harry epitomised the ideals of Vacuum Symposium. His warm, friendly personality made vacuum accessible for everyone he met. We all gained knowledge and understanding from Harry at just the right level with him instinctively knowing the individual or audience he was addressing.
This great, understated person reveals his background in an interesting interview (recorded 1991) that can be found on the AVS Science and Technology website providing a wonderful insight into the humour and knowledge of the man.
Professor John Henry “Harry” Leck
1925 – 2007
Obituary (courtesy of Professor John Colligon)
|John Henry Leck, widely known as Harry Leck, was born in Backbarrow in the Lake District of England in 1925. His tertiary studies were undertaken at Liverpool University where he was awarded a degree in Electric Power Engineering in 1946. However, because of the war, these were difficult times in which to be studying: the three-year course was delivered in just over two years and students were obliged to spend two afternoons a week with a local military training corps. Nevertheless Harry obtained an excellent degree and, based on his results, was awarded the William Rathbone Medal. The next two years were spent as an apprentice at the Metropolitan Vickers Company after which he joined their full-time staff and worked in the Vacuum Physics Laboratory under Jack Blears. In 1950 he returned to Liverpool University as an Assistant Lecturer and progressed over the years through the positions of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor. Later he was the David Jardine Professor of Electrical Engineering and served three years as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. After retirement from full time work, he was made an Emeritus Professor. At a meeting in 1980, on the occasion of his retirement, the University Senate expressed its warm appreciation for his long and fruitful service. Harry will be remembered in the scientific community for his work in the field of vacuum physics, and particularly in pressure measurement. He wrote the well-known monograph “Pressure Measurement in Vacuum Systems” which ran to three editions. He served a term as Chair of the British Vacuum Council and continued to represent this organisation as Councillor and Alternate Councillor at meetings of the International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications (IUVSTA) over many years. He was also Chair of the Vacuum Physics Group of the Institute of Physics. From 1989 to 1998 Harry was the Recording Secretary for the IUVSTA, which involved preparing the Minutes of meetings of the Executive Council and many other committees. He also took an active interest in IUVSTA affairs and was first Secretary then Chair of its Vacuum Science Division over the period 1986 to 1992. Later he served as Editor-in-Chief of their Visual Aids education programme from 1996 to 2001.
Those who knew Harry will remember that he was not only a man of great scientific and technical knowledge but also had the ability to convey that knowledge in a clear and interesting manner. His clarity of thought helped to solve many committee problems and this was also helped by his great sense of humour. I was fortunate to be his PhD student and, later, to work with him in the IUVSTA organisation. He was a great colleague and friend to me and many others. He will be sorely missed.