Tributes paid to 'inspirational' former electrical engineering expert

Reporter:

Steve Craddock

TRIBUTES have been paid to an ‘inspirational’ former electrical engineering expert who has died.

Dr Alfred Brameller died peacefully following a short illness at his home in Llangollen on October 13, aged 90, leaving behind his 81-year-old wife Audrey, daughter Alison, son-in-law Stephen and grandson Marcus.

His close friend Humphrey Gibson told of Dr Brameller’s extraordinary life starting from his birth in Poland in 1927, the son of a Jewish mother and Catholic father.

Mr Gibson said: “He was placed in a Catholic orphanage until he was six-years-old, after which a Jewish family cared for him until he was 12, but he attended a Catholic school – not an easy situation for a boy of his age. This turned out to be the end of his school education.

“Just before the outbreak of World War Two he joined his mother and aunt, but they soon had to flee eastwards and were taken prisoners by the Russians.

“They were transported by rail in cramped cattle trucks across Siberia, then by road to a forced labour camp at Aldan, not far south of the Arctic Circle.

“They survived sub-zero temperatures of minus 50 degrees and were forced to work for their food.

“Alfred responded positively to the situation and applied energy and ingenuity to the many tasks necessary for their survival and also learned to speak Russian.

“After about 15 months they were taken to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where they had to fend for themselves, eventually working on a collective farm. Conditions were so bad that both his mother and aunt died from starvation.

“Fortunately Alfred, by now very weak and unable to stand, was carried to the Red Cross building by a stranger, where he was nursed back to health over many weeks and then was sent to an orphanage in Northern India.

“The kindness of that stranger, and the many other people who subsequently helped him, made on him a very deep impression and influenced his whole approach to fellow human beings throughout
his life.”

Mr Gibson explained that at the age of 15 Dr Brameller travelled to Liverpool to join the Polish Navy in exile, after which he made up for his lack of English and secondary education at Naval College and then Wolverhampton Technical College.

He started his working career in mechanical engineering as a draughtsman with companies such as de Havilland and English Electric, following which he qualified as an electrical engineer.

Mr Gibson continued: “In 1954 he joined Associated Electrical Industries at the Metropolitan Vickers site in Manchester, where he was drawn into the field of electrical power engineering and the use of computers in the Electrical Power Systems group.

“In 1960 he was awarded a Higher National Certificate in Electrical Engineering and in 1966, the degree of PhD, which was very unusual for someone without even a first degree.

“In 1978, as one of the leading world experts in this field, he was one of only two people in the country to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Science in Power Systems.”

One of Dr Brameller’s major achievements was to develop the mathematical processes to design computers for operating the National Grid, a method since adopted by many other countries.

He later travelled widely to give the benefit of his expertise and experience in many countries and over the years wrote countless papers and books on mathematics which are still used today.

Dr Brameller retired to Llangollen with his wife Audrey in 1992, enjoying close family life with their daughter, son-in-law, grandson and other relatives.

Throughout his life he gave his time to help many national charities such as Samaritans and in retirement he and his wife worked tirelessly for local causes including Maelor Voluntary Services, the charity running the cafés in Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Mr Gibson added: “Alfred has given many talks to local groups about his life and its lesson for us all, where his gentle, kindly yet very determined character have been so evident and so inspirational to those wanting to help people in need.

“He strongly believed in the power of the human mind to overcome many obstacles. His will to live and succeed pulled him through situations that would have defeated many.

“It has been a privilege to have Alfred as a close friend. We all extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson, coupled with a sense of thankfulness for his life.”

Audrey Brameller said: “Alfred was a man who was known and respected for his valuable work in many countries throughout the world.

“He was very proud of his degree of Doctor of Science at Manchester University, awarded for his years of valuable research into mathematical solutions for various power system analysis problems within the electricity, gas, water, etc. industries.

“Since his retirement he was happiest in our home here in Llangollen with many hobbies and interests, keeping up with various projects on his computer, vegetable garden, and DIY.

“Many people have described him as a lovely man and a true gentleman and he seems to have touched everyone he met.

“Despite his troubled and unusual upbringing, in which many people have been fascinated, and despite his academic successes, he always insisted that he was an ‘ordinary’ person and he was consistently humble.

“He liked to help anyone who needed a hand and was loved by many, reaching his 90th birthday earlier this year. Until a few short weeks ago we were enjoying our many years of volunteering in various roles at Maelor Hospital, where he was a well-known figure.

“During our 50 years together we shared everything with a deep, mutual love. His strength of character never ceased to amaze me. He always said that without my support all his academic achievements would never have been possible, but in fact it was I who was a better person for knowing him.

“As a human being he was a giant, whose wisdom will guide me throughout the rest of my life. There is a new, brightly shining star in the sky.”

Email:

steve.craddock@nwn.co.uk

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