Obituary – Nigel Brenwald

It is with regret that BSAC announces that Dr Nigel Brenwald has passed away.  Nigel was a long standing member of the BSAC community, particularly in the field of antimicrobial susceptibility testing where he contributed his time and expertise, both in his role at City Hospital but also to the BSAC Standardised Methodology.

He is remembered here by his friends and colleagues in a tribute penned by long time colleague and friend Jenny Andrews:

“Nigel Brenwald’s early career was spent in Cambridge, with Nigel leaving the Department of Microbiology at Addenbrooks Hospital when his wife Claire took up a post as a Consultant Microbiologist at Worcester. The interview Nigel attended at City Hospital in Birmingham was for a post in the diagnostic laboratory, but we soon realised that he had a great potential and enthusiasm for research. He was offered a post as a Senior BMS in the research team and joined us on the 16th of September 1991; this appointment proved to be one of the best decisions that we ever made.

Very soon we realised that Nigel had a tremendous breadth of knowledge and it was not unusual for BMS’s in the diagnostic laboratory to ask his advice about a “tricky isolate”. In fact it was not long before one of the BMS’s stated that every laboratory should have a “Nigel”.

Through his studies for a BSc and later a PhD Nigel became interested in molecular technology and it was not long before he set up an area for molecular testing with the introduction of routine testing services for mecA, PVLs,   point of care testing for the detection of MRSAs, norovirus and also the detection of influenza A, which was invaluable when we found the hospital the epicentre of an outbreak. Apart from routine services Nigel also developed methods for detecting mechanisms of resistance and this data was often used by the BSAC and EUCAST when setting MIC breakpoints.

Nigel’s expertise meant the he was an observer on the BSAC Working Party for Susceptibility Testing and his contribution over the years was invaluable. He was also part of the team who organised the BSAC Residential Workshops at Wolverhampton University. Anyone who attended his lectures will never forget his use of liquorice allsorts to illustrate DNA gyrase or a vanilla slice to represent the cell wall of a Gram negative rod and his final comment of “if you hear hoof beats think of horses not zebras”. His enthusiasm at the Workshops was infectious and many of the attendees went away with a greater understanding and interest in mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and how this knowledge would help a diagnostic laboratory.

For all of his colleagues at City Hospital he will be remembered not only for his scientific contribution and support in helping individuals to get higher degrees, but mainly his qualities as a human being. Nigel was a real gentleman, kind and supportive and I cannot remember him every losing his temper. He was surrounded by women in the research area and none of us will forget the “raised eyebrow” when he thought we were being “silly”; we referred to this affectionately as the “Nigel Look”.

Nigel had to leave Microbiology on the 18th October 2012 because of ill health, he was sadly missed; his passing has left a hole in the hearts of all who knew him.”

Thanksgiving service:

There will be a service of thanksgiving for Nigel’s life at 3pm on Tuesday 15th October at St Edburga’s Church, Leigh, Worcestershire WR6 5JU – this follows a woodland burial which will be attended by family members.

After the Thanksgiving service there will be refreshments at The Foal Yard, Bransford WR6 5JB – a short drive away from the church.

All welcomed by Claire and family.