A Tribute to our former Chair and Distinguished Member: Rear Admiral (Retd) Paul Thomas

We are saddened to share that our former Chair and Distinguished Member, Rear Admiral (Retd) Paul Thomas, CB, FREng, FCGI, BSc (Eng), MSc, CEng, FIMechE, Hon FNucI has passed away. As a tribute, we wanted to look back at Paul’s impressive career and his contribution to the Hazards Forum.


Paul had a successful and rewarding 35-year career in the Royal Navy, joining in 1963. He completed his initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and in HM Ships, before joining the Royal Naval Engineering College where he gained a degree in Mechanical Engineering and subsequently an MSc in Nuclear Science and Technology. Following this, Paul completed his submarine training before undertaking several appointments in HMS Ocelot, HMS Oracle, HMS Renown and HMS Revenge. His shore-based appointments included Assistant Director Reactor Safety, Superintendent Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment Dounreay, Chairman Naval Nuclear Technical Safety Panel, Director Nuclear Propulsion, and Captain Royal Naval Engineering College, and Chief Strategic Systems Executive (CSSE). In his latter appointment as CSSE, Paul had responsibility for the procurement of the Trident submarines, missile systems and nuclear warheads.

While in the Royal Navy, Paul received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct in 1980 and the US Legion of Merit in 1998. He was also appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) that same year.

1998 onwards

Paul retired from the Royal Navy in 1998 joining AEA Technology, Nuclear Engineering where he held the positions of Director Engineering Projects and Director Strategic Development. He moved to British Nuclear Fuels plc in 2001 as Director Environment, Health, Safety and Quality. In 2005 Paul joined the Board of the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) Ltd as a non-executive director and upon retiring from BNFL in 2008, Paul become RSSB Ltd’s Chairman. Following his retirement, Paul undertook several other non-executive, advisory and charitable roles: he was a non-executive director on the boards of both Magnox Ltd (2013) and NNB GenCo (2011-2018); he was President of the Nuclear Institute (2008-2010); he continued as Chair of RSSB Ltd up until 2014; he was a special advisor on environment, safety, health and quality matters to AWE Management Limited (2008-2014); he was Chair of the Hazards Forum (2010-2017); at the time of his passing he was Chair of the Process Safety Forum (2009-2024).

The Hazards Forum

Paul joined the executive committee of the Hazards Forum in 2009 before becoming a trustee and its chairman in 2010. Under Paul’s stewardship, the charity provided a range of high-quality events to its members and the public. These events enable interdisciplinary debate on a wide range of natural and human-made hazards and provide opportunities for networking.

Paul completed his second term as trustee, stepping down in 2017, and in December 2018, in recognition of his significant contribution to the Hazards Forum, the charity awarded Paul Distinguished Member status.

Rear Admiral (Retd.) Paul Thomas receiving his certificate of Distinguished Membership from the Chair of the Hazards Forum, Dr. Luise Vassie. 6th December 2018.

Paul was a great man and inspirational leader. When I first met Paul he had recently retired from BNFL having had a stellar career in both industry and the Royal Navy. He was now using his vast experience in safety and risk management to benefit others, either as non-executive director, a charity trustee, a committee chair, or an independent advisor to boards. Paul worked tirelessly to bring people together to debate matters concerned with hazard and risk management, for the public good. He encouraged, enthused, and sought to provide opportunities for, those around him, and his contribution to the Hazards Forum was substantial. I was hugely grateful to have known Paul and I am sure that all past and present members of the Hazards Forum who knew Paul will remember him fondly.

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