Nigel Cummings: 25 May 1958 - 16 January 2024

Nigel was born in West Bromwich on 25 May 1958, and for the first 33 years of his life he lived with his parents in various public houses owned by his grandparents. These were the Dunkirk Inn, the Stour Valley Tavern and the lastly the Odd Fellows Arms in Carters Green, West Bromwich. It was their hard work that enabled him to attend Hydesville Tower Private School in Walsall where he became head boy.


Following school, he went to Edinburgh University to study sociology. Upon leaving University he obtained employment in London, working for two or three ad agencies, learning his trade whilst also enjoying the high life, having a natural affinity to the district’s bohemian and avant-garde culture. He also did some work at the BBC, working on the then new Teletext service, mixing with the likes of Tony Barnstaple, Michael & Mary Parkinson and the inimitable Terry Wogan.

After a number of years, he returned to the Midlands and became the managing editor of Micromart, a weekly computer magazine. He increased the sales and the size of the magazine, while also mixing with the likes of Lord Alan Sugar, with whom he was on first names terms and even managed to break a vase at his house, a claim to fame that he probably wished to forget.

In 1996, two events shaped the rest of his life; he met his life-long partner, Gary Overton, and started working for the Operational Research Society as its in-house journalist. Nigel’s relationship with Gary started in March 1996 and lasted until Nigel’s death, some 28 years later, becoming official as a civil partnership on 15 August 2012. Gary described this as, “becoming soul mates right to the very end, having many, many interests”. This also involved Nigel becoming a stepdad to Jake, Gary’s son from an earlier relationship. The trio enjoyed many holidays with Jake picking up Nigel’s love of photography.

It soon became obvious that The OR Society and Nigel were an amazing fit, allowing him to blend writing with his love of science and mathematics. He was also able to mix with many distinguished people. He never lost his awe of those he met, and from the messages of condolences it seems many also felt the same of Nigel. Gary commented, “He would often talk about conversations he had with this person and that person, and you could see in his face he loved it.”

He loved going to the annual Blackett Lecture in November, while Gary was doing his Christmas shopping in Oxford Street. Even when working, Nigel and Gary were never far apart. Despite the closeness, Nigel did like to maintain a certain separation of his personal and professional lives.

Nigel’s interests were vast, stretching from his love of photography through watches and cars to exotic holidays. His interest in photography covered both composition and the technology side of things, leaving behind a vast number of cameras, lenses, tripods, scanners etc.

The first car Nigel bought at the age of 14 (on behalf of his grandmother) wasn’t a Ford, Vauxhall or Leyland, but a brand new 4.2 litre Jaguar XJ6 coupe, which remained in the family for some 25 years. Last year he fulfilled a lifelong wish to buy a Bentley Turbo R, although this didn’t go as well as planned with repairs testing the deepest pockets.

Nigel loved his holidays to combine three things food, wine and history – with one of the last holidays taking his mother across the Mediterranean from Majorca to Jordan, finishing up at Petra. Gary recalls, “Nigel and his mother in the back of an open cart pulled by a mule down a dirt track like something from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

His great love was Rome, what Nigel didn’t know about Rome, ancient and present, wasn’t worth learning in the first place. This also included Pompeii which he visited numerous times. Gary smiled, recalling, “I’d often find him shouting at the TV on any documentary on the subject of Pompeii, that they had their facts wrong, the same was said for Egypt.”

Nigel lived life to the full, and even when life took its toll and he had to have one leg amputated, this would not stop him from doing the things he wanted to. He often stated that he would love to relocate to the Mediterranean where he felt so at home speaking fluent French, Italian and even some German. Gary added, “Wherever we went he would endeavour to learn the language. One funny antidote was while in Montreal in Canada, we walked into a bar and the bar staff switched from English to French, as was their wont, and of course he just slipped into fluent French, much to the annoyance of the bar staff.”

Nigel’s love of the media extended well beyond photography. He loved cinema, but hated cinemas, meaning Nigel and Gary had cinemas installed in their properties; he could rattle off great details of films and actors. He wrote books on a wide range of topics – natural medicines, kidney stones and even ghosts many of which are still on sale on Amazon. He would often argue his side to any dietitian that dared to do battle with him on the subject, but always with tact and diplomacy.

Gary summarised, “He was so many different things to so many different people. He was very much a chameleon, but I loved him for that ability. To me he was just the love of my life, and I really don’t know how life will be without him in it.”