Former Heath Grammar School head boy to receive OBE honour

Roger Coates

Roger Coates

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A former Heath Grammar School head boy will receive an OBE after being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to nuclear safety and radiation protection.

Roger Coates, 69, was born in Halifax and attended Parkinson Lane Junior School, followed by Heath Grammar School where he was head boy from 1964 to 1965.

While he has since moved away from the area, Mr Coates spent much of his early life in Halifax. He lived at Ripon Street, West End, and married his wife Hazel at Warley St Johns Church in 1967.

On being named in the honours list, Mr Coates said: “I’m delighted and really pleased that the work I have done is appreciated. It’s also great to have the opportunity, having being involved in this profession for so long, to put something back for the benefit of others. It’s very rewarding.”

Mr Coates received a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University in 1968, a PhD in physics from Reading University, and undertook post-doctoral research at Swansea University.

In 1975 he joined the health and safety department at Sellafield, and continued to work for British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) for more than 30 years, both at Sellafield and at the company head office in Warrington.

After a period as head of safety at Sellafield, in 2000 he became acting director of environment, health and safety for BNFL, and continued in this role for British Nuclear Group until his retirement from the company in 2006.

He then took a post with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is part of the United Nations family, in Vienna where he became involved in supporting the government of Iraq in the decommissioning of their war-damaged nuclear facilities.

Since 2008 he has been a non-executive director at the LLW Repository Ltd in West Cumbria, as well as advising several other nuclear organisations on safety issues.

Mr Coates has had extensive national and international involvement in the field of radiation protection and served as president of the Society for Radiological Protection from 1995 to 1996.

He was vice president for Congress Affairs for the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), leading the organisation of a major international congress held in Glasgow in 2012.

He was IRPA vice president for the period 2012-2016, and became IRPA president for the period 2016-2020 during the recent IRPA International Congress in Cape Town in May 2016.

Roger has been married to Hazel for 48 years. The couple have two grown-up sons based in Macclesfield and Cheltenham and two grandchildren.

During 1975-1990 the family lived in Gosforth, West Cumbria, and for the last 20 years Roger and Hazel have lived in the South Lakes village of Bouth, near Ulverston, Cumbria.