Wednesday, 09 September 2015
Leslie Chubb began working at the University of Reading in 1966. He was then based at the London Road site working under Professor Tyler.
In 1969, what is still called Temporary Office Building One at Earley Gate, became the Department of Agriculture of Reading University. The large room at the end of spur D became the Analytical Laboratory. Just before that room is a small room on the right which became Les Chubb`s office, as he was now a Senior Analyst. By the end of 1972, Les had 5 people working under him. In those early days the lab staff analysed samples for Agriculture PhD students and for the university`s farms. The samples could be soils, crops, animal feeds and, in later years, food and milk. Analyses were booked through Les and he had equipment for analyses of calories, metals, fibre, protein, sugars and fats. (This list increased in later years.)
In 1974, Les went to the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to help set up a lab and, when he came back, sent his deputy out there and, later, six technicians from there came to Reading for training. He had not finished his own training as, at an age of over 45 years, he achieved a Masters degree through part-time study, whilst continuing his work as senior analyst.
He may or may not have had an interest in and love for Africa before going to Tanzania; he certainly did afterwards. As the years went on, staff were not replaced when they left and by the end of 1982 Les had only 2 people working under him. This meant that students, mostly international students, came to the lab to do their own analyses and so he met even more Africans.
Les described himself as a "Salvationist" and, on one occasion, took 3 Ethiopian students to the Salvation Army; he led the service during which they read from the pulpit from their own Amharic Bibles.
As the nineteen eighties progressed, Les saw a few changes as work started to come in from other departments and from outside the university. The nineties brought further change as the locally-based Grassland Research Institute closed and staff came to the department and to the lab from there.
In January 1993 Les retired at the age of 64, but his health was still good and he lived another strong 22 years with his loving family. He passed recently after a quick illness.
Les has been described as "a very kind man", "a very caring man" and even "too nice a chap" by people at the university. Anyone who thinks of Christians as solemn and miserable would have been in for a surprise if they had met him. As some of the Salvation Army are paid officers he would say: "some of us are paid to be good and the rest of us are good for nothing". A notice on his desk said: "Are you looking for someone with a little authority? I have as little as anyone."