Obituary: Graham Murray, Scottish industrial chemist and founder of BAC2

Dr Graham Simpson Murray, industrial chemist and founder of BAC2 Ltd. Born: 22 September 1956 in Edinburgh. Died: 12 February 2021 in Fairoak, Hampshire, aged 64

Graham Murray - 'An incredible scientist and an even better man'

Graham Murray, a chemist specialising in Polymer Composites, won several awards for his work and always proudly accepted them for Scotland where his roots lay.

He was born in the family home, 19 Fowler Terrace, Edinburgh, to David and Grace Murray. He shared a very happy childhood with his sister Hazel and brother David. Sadly, Graham’s father died at just 36 when he was only 18 months old, so he was raised by his mother, supported by his maternal grandmother and his aunt Agnes.

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Hazel has fond memories of Graham and describes him as a “dark horse” when referring to childhood stories. On one occasion Graham and a pal knocked on the door of Sean Connery’s father’s home in Fountainbridge, asking to see James Bond. They were unsuccessful, of course, but that confidence shown as a young boy stayed with him throughout his life.

Football was a lifelong passion. Graham supported Hearts and described himself as the best player never to have played for Hearts or Scotland. He played until a back injury led to football retirement in his fifties. As a child Graham played for North Merchiston Boys Club and then Edinburgh at various levels in his teens.

He attended Bruntsfield Primary School and Boroughmuir High School. After leaving he worked in the laboratory at Scottish & Newcastle Breweries until he decided to go travelling following divorce from his first wife. Graham discovered Kibbutz life in Israel and visited several times while deciding the direction in which his career would go.

Back at home, Graham studied Chemistry at Napier College and after obtaining his degree went to work with Borden Chemicals near Southampton. Whilst with Borden, he obtained his PhD at the University of Portsmouth and became Borden’s Head Research Chemist, specialising in Polymer Composites. When Borden relocated to Cardiff, Graham made the decision to form his own company, BAC2 Ltd, in 2002.

Graham was keen to start up a “clean tech” company, knowing that his innovative product could be used to improve the long-term health of the environment. One of the applications of his patented products is in the manufacture of key components for fuel cells which can be used to power anything from mobile phones to cars and buses.

Graham’s business partner, Mike Stannard, said Graham was a brilliant chemist, years ahead of his time. Through Graham’s work with BAC2, his ingenuity and aptitude for chemical problem solving allowed him to be the named inventor of three patents, a true testament to Graham’s talent as a chemist and overall contribution to the scientific community.

Although he was an expert in his field and highly regarded by so many, Graham was unassuming. He didn’t have a condescending bone in his body, and many of the people who knew him were totally unaware of his professional achievements. He was a humble and generous individual who always had time for others and would happily listen to other opinions… occasionally he would even follow them!

Graham was a sociable man who made and kept friends easily. He liked nothing better than having close friends and family at his home where food, drink and banter was the order of the day. Graham would always recount anecdotes of his past and tell corny jokes that most people had heard before.

Graham married Debra on 29 April 1995 in Bishops Waltham, Hampshire, having met on New Year’s Eve in 1993 in a Southampton pub. They spent their honeymoon in the Algarve and whilst there, purchased a timeshare where they subsequently spent many happy times with family and friends and forged wonderful memories. They also visited Scotland frequently to see relatives and friends in Edinburgh and Montrose. Despite Graham being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, he and Debra had planned to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary last year on a cruise, but it was cancelled due to Covid so they celebrated with champagne in their hot tub at home.

Graham fought a brave battle which he, sadly, lost. He passed away peacefully in the comfort of his own home with his loving wife Debra by his side. Debra’s love, care and devotion enabled Graham to remain at home during his final days. Graham’s siblings and extended family, whilst heartbroken, appreciate this and are grateful that he is now free from any discomfort and at peace.

Graham’s funeral took place on Monday 8 March 2021 at Wessex Vale Crematorium, Eastleigh. His friend and business partner Mike Stannard quoted leading clinical scientist Dr Ashok Vaidya, who said: “Graham had the skill and uncanny ability to make adjustments to the chemistry that so often sorted out the problem that had arisen. I never saw him stumped.”

Due to restrictions only 30 mourners were permitted to attend, although hundreds of people were able to view online. Although Graham had not lived in Edinburgh for over half his life, he never forgot where he came from.

Graham will live on through the memories of those lucky enough to have connected with him throughout his life, who will always remember him as an incredible scientist and an even better man. He loved and adored his wife and family and they in turn loved and adored him.

Scotland should be proud to have produced yet another great scientist. “A true gem.”

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