Dr Gareth Griffiths RIP

Author: | 28 Feb 2024

With his Longford Scholarship, says his sister Lorna, her brother went ‘from drugs, crime and prison to being a respected professional, a Doctor of Physics, and contributing member of society’.

We are all saddened to hear of the death of former Longford Scholar, Dr Gareth Griffiths, in January, writes the Longford Trust’s director Peter Stanford.  Originally from Leominster, Gareth was awarded a Longford Scholarship in 2011, having completed an access course at City of Bristol College. He had gained a place to study physics at Bristol and, working closely with his Longford Trust mentor, Matthew Hickman, thrived there. In 2012 he was promoted onto the integrated Masters course and in 2014 switched to physics and astrophysics. In September 2014, he wrote to us in an email that he was, ‘thinking of a career in nuclear fusion, creating clean, nuclear energy’.  And that is what he achieved.

He got his BSc in 2016, moved on to a Masters with us – plus support from the Michael Varah Memorial Fund – and had completed his PhD shortly before his death at 44. His professional career blossomed, latterly with Kyoto Fusioneering as a Senior Nuclear Fusion Engineering Consultant, working to establish a UK base for them. He spoke at academic conferences as far apart as Oxford and Russia, spent time at CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research – home of the Large Hadron Collider and kept his goal of providing the planet with clean, nuclear energy was always in his sight.

It gave him back his faith in society

His sister, Lorna, tells us that she and Gareth’s mother, Pam, attended his PhD graduation ceremony that took place after his death. It was, ‘a beautiful reminder of what he achieved’. They also visited the labs and office where he worked on it at Bristol University and met his colleagues. ‘At a time when society had given up on him,’ she recalls of her brother receiving a scholarship from the Longford Trust, ‘it was ground-breaking for him to find people who not only believed in him but wanted to help. It gave him back faith in society and motivation to prove himself, and be the best version of himself that he could be. He just needed someone other than those who loved him to believe in him. Thank you for doing that. He went from drugs, crime and prison to being a respected professional, a Doctor of Physics, and contributing member of society.’

At the request of his family, all donations in Gareth’s memory at his funeral have been directed to the Longford Trust. We have placed £1500 in our endowment fund so that others in the future will have the opportunity to walk in Gareth’s footsteps in rebuilding their life. In his application form submitted in the summer of 2011, he wrote: ‘I want to find a vocation in which I can contribute constructively to society.’  With hard work, perseverance and passion, he did just that.  He will be much missed.