Gladys Salt, 1925-2011

Gladys Salt, formerly a laboratory technician in the Department of Biochemistry, has died. Professor Stephen Halford writes a note of appreciation.

Gladys Salt joined the Department of Biochemistry in 1980, as a technician with prime responsibilities for glassware washing in the laboratory shared by Nigel Brown and myself. Gladys had in fact worked for the University before then as a laboratory cleaner, where she had kept our laboratory – and many others – in an immaculate state. Her commitment and her dedication to her cleaning post, coupled with her drive and energy, led us to suggest to her that she should apply for the technician post in our laboratory that had just become vacant. We were delighted when she was appointed.

Within just a few weeks, we had no idea how we had ever survived without Gladys. Her specific responsibilities for cleaning and maintaining the laboratory glassware, and for numerous other duties around the laboratory, were without fail carried out flawlessly. But for generations of graduate students and research associates in this laboratory, Gladys provided so much more at a personal level. Everyone knows that tea and sympathy cures most ills and over the years Gladys provided plenty of both to our students and our colleagues. But Gladys had a secret weapon in the tea and sympathy stakes – she also supplied them with Kit-Kats, for which they remain eternally grateful. She thus fulfilled the roles of not just glassware monitor but also mother, confidant, advisor, supporter and encourager.

Her early days in Biochemistry were spent in the Inner Court laboratories off Woodland Road that have since become part of Earth Sciences. She then moved with us when our laboratory was relocated to the School of Medical Sciences, where she stayed with us until her retirement in 1992. Owing to her age and to the regulations in force at that time, her retirement was obligatory; but if she had been allowed, she would have stayed with us for much longer, such was her enthusiasm and loyalty. Sadly, Gladys’ husband, John, died shortly after her retirement, but she remained in the Clifton area and could often be found walking very long distances around Bristol.

I doubt whether anyone was ever more appropriately named than Gladys Salt – she really was the true 'salt of the earth'. She is much missed by everyone who passed through her laboratory.

Stephen Halford

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