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Professor Nicholas John Fiddian (1948–2010)

23 July 1948 – 24 April 2010

Nick Fiddian

Members of the School of Computer Science & Informatics were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Professor Nick Fiddian who died on 24th April after suffering for several months with cancer.

Nick graduated from London School of Economics in 1969 with a 1st Class Honours degree in Economics. This was followed by an MSc (Distinction) in Computer Science, London University Institute of Computer Science in 1970. In 1976 he graduated from University of Southampton with a PhD in Computer Software, focussing on meta-translation. His meta-translation approach subsequently appeared in many final year projects as extensions to an advanced computer compiler that he specifically designed for teaching purposes.

Nick joined University College, Cardiff on 1st October 1973 as a Lecturer in the recently formed Department of Computing Mathematics.  His research interests at that time were in language translation (compilers), systems software design, data structures and filing systems. This evolved into research on knowledge engineering and distributed systems. Nick was appointed Head of Department in 1995.  He oversaw its evolution into a Department of Computer Science.  In the later years of his career he dedicated himself to the Department’s development. He remained Head over a 13 and a half year period, in which time the School progressed from RAE grade 2 to grade 5 and doubled in size. In this transformation he led by example. He took a keen interest in all the School staff, in particular paying close attention to their career development. Throughout his working life he strove to operate on an ‘open door’ basis, seeking to get the best out of people and genuinely taking an interest in their work.

Nick retired from the University in December 2009.  His interactions and involvement on University Committees were widespread across the University, carrying out all business with good humour, conviction and an eye for detail. Colleagues frequently exploited this to improve their work - a document that had been “Nicked” had reached a quality threshold that was widely respected. His wry jokes, love of a pun and positive outlook were hallmarks of a gifted and talented communicator and researcher. He was interested in sport, and as a life-long Tottenham Hotspurs fan, business was frequently punctuated with soccer analysis and debate.  He was also passionate about rugby, following the Scarlets and Wales.  His Monday mornings were much more pleasant if Wales had won on the Saturday, particularly if England were the opponents! Perhaps unknown to many, Nick also had a great interest in steam engines and had recently undertaken narrow gauge engine driving in North Wales, one of his favourite places for relaxation, topped only by family holidays in Pembrokeshire.

Nick was guided by a strong moral and religious conviction, striving to be fair and collegiate on every occasion. The values of fairness extended to all with whom he came into contact. Care and attention to students became a core ethos that he embedded in the School and its policies. Nick was also a great believer in the family and family values. It was fitting that his wife Pat, children and granddaughter supported him through his illness and were with him when he passed away. Colleagues across the School and the University as a whole will greatly miss him. He will be remembered as a good, kind and caring man.