He's gone but he won't be forgotten

TALK about the Norman Lockyer Observatory to Gerald White and his eyes light up.

TALK about the Norman Lockyer Observatory to Gerald White and his eyes light up.Until very recently, he was secretary at the Salcombe Regis observatory, which is in the process of trying to raise £60,000 to build a new dome to house its latest acquisition, a 20-inch Newtonian reflecting telescope.Mr White is philosophical about retiring from his post. He said: "Everyone comes to the end of a session. I can't remember when I became secretary, though I certainly stood in for the late Lance Kelly in 1990. I've had a finger in the pie since then."When he became too ill, I became secretary and have carried on ever since. "It's not the first time I've retired but I decided it was about time for a new face."Mr White, 75, has seen a number of changes at the site during his involvement, including the provision of the James Lockyer Planetarium in 1995, opened by astronomer Sir Patrick Moore; the restoration of the McClean Dome in 1997 and the completion in November 2005 of the Donald Barber Theatre, a state-of-the-art lecture hall seating 80.Mr White took early retirement from The King's School, Ottery St Mary, where he was head of sixth form, when it ceased being a grammar school.A physics graduate in 1957, he had degrees in maths and physics and teaching qualifications.He said: "Either you joined defence research or worked in the USA. I did work for the Home Office. It was not very exciting and I wanted to teach."From that moment, I always had two careers. I led a double life, the Home Office never let me get away."I worked for them voluntarily and was a regular scientific advisor," said Mr White, who was awarded an MBE.He may have retired as secretary, but there is no way Mr White will give up his involvement at the NLO.

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