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Nicholas John Garneys Barron

West 1970-75

Nick was born on 21 May 1957 at University College Hospital in London. His father John was a doctor and his mother Ann was a nurse. Nick was the eldest of three children, with a younger brother Tim and younger sister Lucy.

Nick and I met at St Faith’s in 1964 when he started as a boarder and I joined as a day pupil. I have very fond memories of those early years, when life was so much simpler. Nick was full of energy, was funny, occasionally mischievous and was always right at the heart of whatever was going on. He was good at sport, especially rugby, took part in all kinds of school activities and was often the one leading the way.

In 1970, 13 of us from St Faith’s went on to The Leys. Everyone boarded at The Leys in those days and Nick and I were put in West House, which was a relatively new house, opened in 1961 by the Queen Mother but despite its newness, conditions were still pretty basic, with just four dormitories for the entire house, with 18 beds in each. No study bedrooms in those days.

The Leys was a pretty tough school in 1970 and like St Faith’s, education, discipline and sport were all high priorities but what we gained most of all from our time at The Leys was the incredible friendships that remain true to this day. We were a very cohesive year in West House and shared some great times together.

One of Nick’s greatest passions was music and he loved buying obscure records by artists that most of us had never heard of, which then often became our favourites. Nick was extremely kind and generous and often gave away his newly purchased albums so that others could share his love of new music.

Nick was great fun but he was also very intelligent and was a deep thinker. He had a slightly Bohemian style in both his choice of clothes and his outlook on life and was always very smartly dressed. He loved art and poetry and supported many of the popular political causes of the 1970s.

Although Nick obtained good grades in his three science A levels, he decided to turn down a place at Goldsmiths, University of London and opted instead to start work as a Quality Control Manager at the Hartley’s jam factory in Histon, just outside Cambridge. His next move was to the bright lights of London to train as a Claims Specialist with the insurance firm, General Accident, where he remained for the next 12 years before joining a syndicate at Lloyd’s of London, specialising in property and liability insurance for many well-known financial institutions.

Nick met Sarah in 1984 at a wedding in Upminster and they lived together in three successive houses before marrying and settling in Wimbledon in 1995, where they had two sons, Laurie and Ben.

Nick travelled extensively with his work to countries around the world and was responsible for some extremely complex insurance cases, that sometimes took years to resolve. He was part of the team that negotiated the 9/11 World Trade Centre settlements, which was one of the pinnacle achievements of his insurance career.

Nick was always extremely professional and thorough in whatever task he undertook and cared greatly for all the people he worked with. His mentorship of junior colleagues is celebrated citywide in the insurance industry but leading such complex, high-profile cases, combined with corporate pressures, took their toll on both Nick’s wellbeing and his mental health and the Covid years brought further stresses.

After a short illness, which involved time in hospital, Nick sadly passed away on 9 July 2023, after he developed pneumonia and other complications. Nick was a great friend, who sadly died far too young.

All of Nick’s family and friends miss him enormously but his kind, loyal, generous and caring nature will live on forever in our hearts. I feel very fortunate to have known Nick as a friend for so many years.

Words by Robert Norfolk, West 1970-75