We are sad to report the death of Brian Spark, a well-known and respected figure in the space insurance market. He passed away on 7 August following a long period of illness.

Brian Spark Courtesy: Atrium

Brian Spark, who came to be nicknamed “Sparky”, originally joined the insurance market from school in 1959 as an insurance broker at Commercial Union. He worked his way through various firms until he became part of the airline and products team at insurance broker J H Minet, eventually joining its newly formed space team as a policy wording specialist. From there Brian worked for brokers Crawley Warren, Leslie and Godwin, and Willis before joining the Marham Space Consortium, led by Simon Clapham, as an underwriter in 1994. This eventually became the Brit Space Consortium.

At Brit he acted as a mentor to David Wade as he transitioned from space lecturing and engineering to a full-blown space underwriter, later helping him to set up the Atrium Space Insurance Consortium, which David now leads. “Sparky”, who retired eight years ago, was, no doubt, proud of his apprentice.

During his time in the market, Brian Spark also wrote the “Space and Satellite” section of the Chartered Insurance Institute aviation course and contributed to books on space law and insurance. Before he became ill, Brian and his wife, Lin, had been enjoying retired life, splitting their time between Earith and in Florida, no doubt while quaffing his beloved red wine tipple until his illness forced him to give it up.

On a personal note: This writer, who knew “Sparky” on and off for about 20 years, was always grateful for his help and friendship. While “Sparky” had weather-beaten craggy looks, which always reminded your correspondent of the scary escapee criminal in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, he was in fact one of the nicest insurance executives you could meet.

Yes, Sparky could be rough-edged at times, and he would not put up with any brokers’ baloney having been one himself, using an occasional “Foxtrot Oscar” as his response. However, in telling it how it was, rather than how others would like it to be, he came to be known as a good man – one you could trust, whether in business or elsewhere.

Sparky’s sense of humour was always very much alive, including once sending this e-mail to his colleagues a few years ago:

ALIENS ARE COMING TO EARTH IN A FEW DAYS’ TIME. THEIR MISSION IS TO ABDUCT ALL GOOD LOOKING AND SEXY PEOPLE.

YOU WILL BE SAFE ENOUGH – I’M JUST EMAILING YOU TO SAY GOODBYE.

Whether it is God or the Aliens (which he was more likely to believe in) who have now got him, we give our salute to Brian Spark, and offer our condolences to his wife Lin, to his family and to his many friends.