Obituary: Dame Phyllis Somers

Philanthropist and Birkbeck Fellow

Dame Phyllis Somers died peacefully at her home on Jersey in March 2014, aged 92. Widow of airline tycoon JN 'Nat' Somers, Dame Phyllis was made a Fellow of Birkbeck in recognition of her philanthropic support of Birkbeck's Biomedical Chemistry Laboratory in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

Her philanthropic contributions to Birkbeck over more than a decade of involvement in the College also included support for the Learning Information Centre in 2005. Most recently she gave support to Birkbeck's undergraduate bursary scheme.

Dame Phyllis was an extremely generous philanthropist who made a lasting difference to many people's lives through her support for medical research and social welfare charities in Jersey, the UK and the US. Her financial support and personal energy especially benefited Cancer Research UK. She received a DBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2013 in recognition of her work for charitable services.

The Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, said: "I first met Dame Phyllis when I was Dean of the Institute of Child Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital, of which she was a generous supporter. Following my move to Birkbeck, I was delighted that she was as understanding of Birkbeck's unique mission, and I was most grateful for her support. The College and students benefited greatly from her generosity and interest."