Royal invitation for University’s longest-serving employee

Barry and Liz Bailey at the Royal Garden Party
Barry and Liz Bailey at the Royal Garden Party

Lab technician Barry Bailey, who has worked in the same role at the University of Southampton since 1966, attended King Charles III and the Queen Consort’s first Royal Garden Party in recognition of his long service.

Barry and his wife Liz, of Benedict Close in Romsey, attended the party on Wednesday 3 May.

"It was a fantastic day," said Barry. "We saw Charles and Camilla. Charles spent several hours chatting with guests - he was very attentive. We recognised certain faces amongst the guests, from very senior clergy, to politicians, to celebrities. It was a very interesting, well-organised afternoon with some great food and live bands for entertainment."

Barry, 78, has seen the University totally transform in the 57 years he has worked here. He said: "The main campus at Highfield was very different when I joined. There was a dairy where Broadlands Road car park is now. It was called Brown and Harrison Dairy, and it had milk delivered in churns and then delivered milk locally by horse and cart. Things have changed a lot!"

Barry has always been involved in teaching students, introducing them to electrical machinery. One of those students, in the early ’80s, was Paul Lewin , now Professor of Electrical Power Engineering and former Head of Electronics and Computer Science.

Paul, who nominated Barry for the invitation to the Royal Garden Party, said: "Barry is very modest, but he has helped tens of thousands of students over the years and whenever they come back they always remember Barry - and he remembers them. He is incredibly popular with the students. And his skills at making and fixing things are the best in the department."

A key project Barry has worked on since 2009 is assembling SHAP (Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure) kits. The kits, which are shipped worldwide, contain objects and tasks that are used to assess prosthetic hand functionality in people who have lost their hand.

So does Barry have plans to retire any time soon?

He said: "When I reached retirement age, I was asked if I would consider staying on, as some of the things I do they don’t otherwise have the knowledge for. I said ’yes’ because I very much enjoy the work and the colleagues - it’s a great team to be a part of. I have no plans to retire while I am still capable and enjoying it!"