Alan Eric Fantom (OS 1959)
Alan Fantom, who was born in Stockport, was a leading expert in microwave power measurement at The National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex. He is the author of the book ‘Radio Frequency and Microwave Power Measurement’, which was published in 1990, and is still regarded as a key reference work on the subject.
He attended Banks Lane Primary School, and at 11 gained a scholarship for Stockport Grammar School. He took A levels in Double Maths and Physics, and was a keen contributor to the musical life of the school. He was awarded a student apprenticeship with the Post Office Telephones, and under that scheme gained a BSc Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Birmingham University, followed by a PhD, with a thesis on parametric amplifiers. During this period he gained an ATCL performer’s diploma for piano. Subsequently, at the Post Office Research Station, at that time in Dollis Hill, London, he studied attenuation by raindrops of electromagnetic waves. Eventually he moved to the National Physical Laboratory, where he stayed until his early retirement on health grounds.
His health had started to decline following six years of writing his book, and then dealing with problems with the publishers, arising from being one of the first authors to submit a text on computer disk. In 1995 he moved to Newbury in Berkshire, where he had jointly purchased a house together with his parents, so that they could be near Alan’s brother, Ian, whose family lived five minutes walk away. His father, Edward Fantom, died in the same year of the move, and for the next three years he was a carer for his mother, Irene Fantom, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Over the past three years he lived in sheltered accommodation in the town centre.
Alan had a lifelong interest in languages, and in his younger years was an active member of The London Esperanto Club, which he combined with his musical interests, being a key contributor in regular concerts there. He was also arts director for the 56th Universal Congress of Esperanto in London in 1971, for which he organised a concert at The Royal Festival Hall.
In 2013 he was awarded first prize in Southern Symphonia’s Older Musician of the Year competition. The Newbury Weekly News reported on June 27, “Alan Eric Fantom won the prize with a piano performance which was moving and utterly spellbinding. His hands soon became fluid and settled into the keyboard: with Debussy’s The Second Arabesque a particular highlight”.
Alan never married. He died at Hungerford Care Home, surrounded by family: his brother Ian, his three nephews Gavan, Rolf and Petra, Rolf’s wife Amreen (whom he had given away at their marriage) and Petra’s baby Oscar – to the strains of Elgar’s cello concerto, a present he had given to Petra years earlier.
The funeral and reception was held on August 13.