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Valerie & Michael

Valerie J. Calderbank BSc, MBCS, CEng, CITP, FRAS


Valerie graduated in Physics from King's College London in 1966. After graduation she joined the Nuclear Physics group at King's and researched into the Optical Model of the Nucleus using the Proton Liner Accelerator (PLA) at the Rutherford Laboratory. It was at King's where she met and married her husband, Dr. Michael Calderbank who also graduated in Physics there and went on to complete a PhD in Nuclear Physics.

Valerie opted for a complete change of direction when she joined the Institute of Computer Science in London with a view to developing a career in Computer Science. There she specialised in Computer Language design and Compiler writing. Subsequently Michael decided to make a similar career and also moved into Computer Science.

In 1968 both Valerie and Michael were recruited by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority to their Culham Laboratory in Oxfordshire. Here they spent many years developing Computer Systems software and other programs for use by scientists. In the 1980s both were transferred to Harwell Laboratory where Valerie headed a business unit developing software under contract to multinational companies firstly in the Aerospace and Defence industries and later in the Oil industry.

Both Valerie and Michael took early retirement in 1995 and became co-founders and directors of Brookeswood Computer Consultants Ltd which operated from 1995-2000. They continued to develop software under contract to Oil companies specialising in data modelling and Expert Systems. 

In 2000, Valerie decided to take up her guitar playing and singing more seriously. For the next six years she performed over 500 live 'sing-alongs' in Day Centres, Nursing Homes and WIs all over Oxfordshire where she and Michael now live. Subsequently Valerie decided to take up Astronomy initially as a hobby. In 2007, she acquired a Certificate of Professional Development with Distinction at Liverpool John Moore's University on a course entitled 'Observing the Universe Through a Small Telescope'. In 2008 she gained a distinction in a theoretical course on  Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Open University. In recognition of her achievements, she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in February 2011 on the recommendation of Sir Patrick Moore. She now lectures extensively in Astronomy in the UK and abroad. This includes lecturing on the Cruise Ships and also running an Astronomy Theme Week for Holiday Property Bond in Mallorca.

Valerie was born in Oldham, Lancashire but grew up in the Northamptonshire village of Woodford Halse. She is still in touch with school friends at Brackley High School for Girls where she was Head Girl. 

She is an experienced writer and presenter. Her first book was "A Course on Programming in FORTRAN IV" and was published in 1969. This became an established text book on University Computer Science Courses in the UK, Spain and Russia. It went into 3 Editions and sold a total of 40,000 copies over a period of 20 years. Her second book, "Bomber Jack", about her father, was published in 2009 under her maiden name of Valerie Ashton. 

Michael J. Calderbank BSc, PhD

Former IT Infrastructure Manager for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Michael has many years experience in Computer Networks, IT Strategy and Procurement, Data Management and Information Engineering. He has experience with ISO 9001 Quality Management certification.

The co-founder and director of BCCL he was involved with Valerie in presenting lectures on data modelling to oil companies worldwide. 
Michael's hobbies include making video films.

Michael is an expert on the self publishing of books using the Lulu system. Apart from designing and publishing "Bomber Jack" and "John's Letters", he has helped a number of people to self publish their books.

Michael was born in Cherry Tree, Lancashire, and was educated at Feniscowles County Primary School. He attended Chorley Grammar School where he was Head Boy. He then became a student at King's College, London University where he gained both a BSc degree and a PhD in Nuclear Physics.

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