Obituary – Radha Robinson (nee Subramaniam)

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Radha Subramaniam who died of Covid-19 on the 8th February 2021.

Born in Madras in 1953, Radha and her family including two sisters moved to England when she was seven. Settling at first in Bexhill, then moving to Altrincham in Cheshire, at sixteen Radha spent a year living with an American Family in Los Angeles on an America Field Service Scholarship. Back in England and after A-levels, she arrived at QEC in October 1972 to read Biochemistry.

Taking a 2.1 in Biochemistry in 1975, she began a promising PhD project in immunology with Prof Alan Ebringer. Sadly, this was cut short when she contracted a severe cytomegalovirus infection requiring hospitalisation. After a prolonged recovery, she went to work in the Immunology Department of the Antony Nolan Foundation.

She met her husband Nick Robinson, a mining engineer and IT specialist from Imperial College, whom she married after a six-year courtship in 1984. Shortly before her marriage, her younger sister Chandy died leaving three motherless children. Radha and Nick immediately took them in and raised them as their own. The family was soon joined by Nick and Radha’s children James and Anna. Inevitably, looking after five children spelt the end of Radha’s scientific career at the Antony Nolan Foundation.

Radha never lost touch with QEC however, attending every meeting and eventually taking a leading role in the QEC Alumni Association. She served as Membership Secretary until her final illness.

Radha uniquely combined a natural friendliness with a down-to-earth mind-set, devoid of both naivety and pretence, making her a delight to know. As hostess or guest, she warmed a room with her beauty and intellect engaging all in conversation that simultaneously carried wit and weight of thought. She followed her father’s adage that “Everyone has something interesting to say; you just have to find out what it is.”

Radha’s children inherited her charm as well as her love of science and humanity. James is a theoretical physicist, and Anna is a Physician. She will also long be remembered fondly by so many others of those she left behind. One thing is certain. No-one ever forgot meeting Radha.

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