James Squires - a really great guy - from his colleagues at Biral
James Squires died in March of viral pneumonia after being ill for several months.
James worked at BIRAL for 9 years as our Meteorological Products Manager and in that time made many firm friendships both with his colleagues and with his customers. James was an affable person who could always see the best in people and who bore no malice. He was in the true sense of the word a gentleman.
There was no challenge that James would not tackle. He was a dare devil with a heart of gold. James was always generous with his time and skills and would go out of his way to help anyone having difficulties.
James was never conventional. He loved extremes, hottest, coldest, highest, fastest (never slowest!) and in all he did James had to excel.
As well as enjoying every moment he spent behind the driving wheel, James was a keen mountain biker and could often be seen hurtling through the woods, a vision in mud splattered lycra. On more than one occasion the bike would conspire with the ground or a tree root to fight back and James would arrive in work on a Monday morning limping or with fresh scars or bruises.
Despite his frequent near misses and wounds, James enjoyed phenomenal health and fitness. Whilst others were laid low with colds and bugs, James sailed through with hardly a sniffle until one infection took hold for which he had no defence.
A very practical man, James enjoyed nothing better than trying to help his customers get the best out of the equipment he had sold them. If this meant climbing a mast or it introduced some other element of danger, so much the better. On one occasion he went to Hong Kong to help a customer with some instruments on a bridge high above Hong Kong harbour. The pictures he brought back of himself hanging over the edge of a bridge were enough to make some of us suffer from vertigo but to James it had been great fun!
James will be very greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies go to James' widow, Ginette and other members of his family.
James Squires - a BAS perspective
James joined BAS in the summer of 1987 to begin training for work in Antarctica.
He had gained an HND in Physical Sciences from North Staffordshire Polytechnic, had some skills in computing (on a BBC micro) and in electronics and an interest in canoeing. This is a typical background for a 'Met Fid' as our observers, cum technicians, cum jack-of-all-trades are known. James was chosen to winter at Halley, and along with Ray Freshwater who was also going to Halley, Peter Kirsch (Faraday) and Alan Osborne (Rothera) formed the group of trainees who set sail for the Antarctic that autumn. James spent the next two years at Halley, carrying out synoptic observations, daily radiosonde flights and frequent ozone observations, as well as having to repair the equipment when it broke down, as it inevitably did. He returned to the UK in the spring of 1990 and spent a further few months in Cambridge working up data that he collected whilst south.
When he joined Biral he maintained his links with BAS and sold us many items of equipment on the strength of his recommendations.
Eulogy given at James' funeral
This is not how I am going to remember James.
In a box. In hospital struggling to breathe.
This is not how I am going to remember James and this is not how James would want to be remembered.
We first met back in 1987 during our training for Antarctic service, in particular a trip to Derbyshire, where we camped, climbed and abseiled. James distinguished himself immediately as we drove into the campsite, standing there with his immense sheaf knife, large rucksack and wrap around shades, we just had to call him Rambo. He wasn't keen on this nickname - so of course it stuck!
James had an enthusiasm for life which was infectious; if he liked something then he embraced it totally. He got excited about it, enthused about it, waved his arms and his eyes lit up. Many excellent evenings were spent talking about the finer details of high performance sports cars (of which I knew little and James knew a lot!).
Life at Halley Base was never dull with James around. On one occasion a solitary penguin turned up. Six days later James decided to catch the poor beast and return it to the coast some 8 miles away. Penguins are actually quite fast and agile. The ensuing chase (James armed with a plastic dustbin) was wildly entertaining for the whole base. But it worked and a couple of hours later the hapless bird was re-united with his companions once again.
There were countless memorable incidents during his two years on Base. On his birthday James once drove the Isle of Man TT. He sat on skidoo (in the lounge!) while a drivers eye view of the race was projected on a big screen, in front of him. On another occasion he easily took the duration record for endurance parascending by sno-cat (this scene would take way too long to describe properly).
Even after his Antarctic days his enthusiasm shone, when we would go camping and hill walking in the Lake District. After half a days hiking we would find ourselves peering across a valley to see a small dot way ahead of us on the next hill. James of course!
James was intrinsically gregarious and always made that extra effort to keep in touch with his friends. He has been known to literally drive half way across the country to attend an evening get together of ex-Antarctic heroes then drive back for work the next day!
We will all remember James for his enthusiasm, his energy and his friendship.
It has been an honour to know James. We are all better for knowing him and he will be greatly missed.
To quote Solzhenitsyn:'Some people are bound to die young. By dying young a person stays young forever in people's memory. If he burns brightly before he dies, his light shines for all time.'This is how I am going to remember James.
Simon Salter and Ray Freshwater
[14 March 2002]
5 March 2007