Jeff Saycell 1970-2023

Born and raised in the Waunfawr area of Aberystwyth, Jeff had 30 years of experience in the leisure industry and worked for Ceredigion County Council before joining Aberystwyth University in 2006. Along with his younger brother Martyn, Jeff was a brilliant athlete and was well known in his youth for swimming and lifesaving, as well as bodybuilding.

The Aberystwyth University community will know Jeff as a fiercely loyal and always cheerful and helpful colleague. He was a joy to work with, always taking time to ask how you were and if he could do anything to make your day better. A dedicated manager who loved the job he was in and the team he worked with, Jeff always wore a smile and enjoyed a good laugh with customers and colleagues.

Initially appointed as Facilities/Commercial Manager at the Sports Centre, Jeff was brought into the University for his knowledge and experience of sports grant and funding applications.  However, over the next 17 years he would time and again be trusted to utilise his talents in new areas of responsibility. He quickly took responsibility for Health and Safety, teaching, facility hire and bookings. With a real talent for working with people, he was the liaison with the Students’ Union and all the community sports clubs.

Over recent years Jeff worked as the University’s Facilities and Grounds Manager, and the skill and vigour he brought to the role again demonstrated why he had become such a trusted colleague. He got to grips with managing three campuses and over 6000 trees and shrubs, working closely with his new team and forming important ties with external bodies and groups in the process.

Recent projects led by Jeff have included restoration of the Brenda Colvin Grade 2 listed gardens at Pantycelyn, the re-planting of trees and shrubs in front of the Hugh Owen Building as you come on campus, and establishing a hedgehog and bee friendly campus.

This contribution led to the University achieving Green Flag Award status for the campus – an award that recognises well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmarking standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces.

Outside of the University community, Jeff was part of the civil society fabric which makes Aberystwyth unique. He was a place-maker extraordinaire and exemplified everything that is great about ‘Town and Gown’ in Aberystwyth. With his links to Clwb Beicio Ystwyth (Ystwyth Cycling Club) Jeff was a co-founder of the Aberystwyth Cycle Festival which for six years was featured on the televised professional Tour Series. Gwyl Seiclo Aber put Aberystwyth on the cycling sports map of Britain and Jeff was pivotal to making this an outstanding success.

Aberystwyth Cycle Festival colleagues knew him as ‘the fixer’ as he would arrange absolutely everything logistical, from the initial method statement and risk assessments on how to close-down a very busy town centre for bike racing on a Friday afternoon with minimal fuss, to getting extra hay bales sorted and delivered for Pier Corner at less than a hours' notice before racing was due to begin. He did this with a smile on his face, chuckle in his voice, and always went above and beyond.

Whether in work or in his outside commitments Jeff was a doer – ready, willing and more than able to step in to help whenever it was needed. Colleagues grieving his loss will miss his kindness, his unstinting support, his talent and his uncanny ability to make the day seem better. 

We extend our deepest sympathies to Jeff’s family at this sad time. I would also like to express my thanks to Darren Hathaway and Professor Martin Jones for preparing this tribute.