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Paul Freestone died suddenly at his home in a converted windmill at Great Gidding, Cambridgeshire, on 12th October 2011, aged 65, following an operation at Papworth Hospital.

Paul was born in Huntingdon and started working for the Nature Conservancy in 1964, straight from school, as an analytical chemist (Assistant Scientific Officer) at Monks Wood Experimental Station in the newly formed Toxic Chemicals and Wildlife Section under Dr. Norman Moore. Those were the days of “Silent Spring” and this section was at the forefront of world research, especially into the effects DDT and other pesticides were having on a wide spectrum of wildlife.

Paul helped in developing new analytical techniques using the latest instruments to detect residues of pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals. He analysed a wide variety of experimental and other samples including – krill from the Antarctic Ocean; swans dying from lead shot discarded by anglers; detecting mercury from polluted mining areas in South Africa; rodenticides in Barn Owls; Dieldrin (from seed dressing) in Bramblings, and DDT and its breakdown products so persistent and ubiquitous it was even found in “organic” hen’s eggs.

With this accumulated expertise Paul trained many scientists (even Professors) from South Africa, USA, India, China, Egypt and several European Countries, in analytical techniques developed at Monks Wood.

Paul took early retirement in 1998 due to ill health but was later able to work part-time as a Laboratory Technician at John Mansfield School, Peterborough, and most recently at Sawtry Community College until retirement, sadly only three months prior to his death.

Paul leaves a widow, Sue, herself also a former employee at Monks Wood, a son Fred, and a daughter Freya, following in her father’s footsteps as a Research Chemist.

Many former colleagues attended his secular funeral at Peterborough Crematorium on 26th October and heard Charlie Young from Sawtry Community College describe how Paul enthused pupils in many subjects, not just Chemistry, and not always in their curriculum. His impish sense of humour was evident at the end when his cardboard coffin, beautifully decorated by his son, departed to the sound of a steam locomotive, and family and friends left the chapel to Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"

Colin Welch           

May 2010 -- Lizzie Carroll   


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Joe Bailey to Paul Howe 

Trevor James to Owen Mountford    

Geoff Smith to Sue Wallis  




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