We were sad to hear the news that Mark Darlow (1924-34) passed away at home on Wednesday 27th June, closely missing his 102nd birthday. We believe that Mark, at the age of 101, was possibly our most senior Old Bedfordian. Much loved father to Tim (68-74) and David (63-68), grandfather and great-grandfather, Mark lived at home, in the house to which he and his family moved in 1957.
After leaving School, Mark studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University before completing his medical training at a London hospital. World War II came and he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, serving in two ships, the first of which was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean, an unforgettable experience. However, for most of the war, he served in hospitals, and whilst running the hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he was appointed Medical Officer in charge of the whole of British West Africa. When stationed at the hospital in Grimsby, by then a Surgeon Commander in the Royal Navy, he met his bride to be, Daphne Ellis, a QARNNS nursing sister.
In 1951, Mark transferred to the Microbiological Research Department at Porton Down, where he worked until retirement in 1977. He was both the Microbiological Safety Officer and the Medical Officer but also did a great deal of important research and development work, on equipment such as the needleless injector for rapid vaccination, sterile operating theatres and an isolation pod for transporting by air people with highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola.
After retirement, Mark continued to use his knowledge and experience as a consultant to the European Molecular Biology Organization in Heidelberg. Outside work, Mark spent many enjoyable hours as a volunteer for the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, teaching and examining first-aiders and was the Wiltshire County Surgeon for many years.
From an early age, Mark had been a keen amateur entomologist and travel in the Navy gave him the opportunity to study butterflies and moths wherever he went. He published several papers on his findings and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. In fitter days, Mark was a passionate fly fisherman. He was on the Wiltshire Fisheries Board and the board of the Salmon & Trout Association and judged fly-casting competitions. Mark‘s many other interests and activities reflected his scientific mind, including anthropology, archaeology, natural history and languages. For many years, Mark was joint DVP for Hampshire, Dorset, Isle of White and Wiltshire and still attended the annual luncheon in Bournemouth.
We extend our most sincere condolences to his family.