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Laura Marshall, who passed away at the young age of 44, was a successful scientist, business woman and entrepreneur. She was a lifelong member of the Guiding Association, running Rainbow and Brownie groups, a strong supporter of her local parents’ association, raising money for the village school, and an active member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists.

Laura was born, to George and Kay, in South East Kent where she began her involvement in Guiding at age 7 as a Brownie and completed her primary and secondary schooling. Laura had one brother, Alastair.

At 16 her family moved to France for four years. Laura studied for her A-levels at the British School of Paris and learnt to drive there. She liked to tell people how she had to drive around the roundabout at the L’Arc de Triomphe, in the rush hour, during her driving test, which she passed first time.

After A-levels, in 1989, Laura went to the University of Durham, graduating with a first in biological sciences.  In 1992 Laura accepted a doctorate position at Hertford College, Oxford University.  Her research at Oxford did not always go smoothly and funding ran out leading to some difficult times but she persevered, with the support of Oxford friends, and eventually completed her thesis on the regulation of the neural cell adhesion molecule in mammalian skeletal muscle to become a proud Dr Marshall.  A post-doctorate position followed at the University of Liverpool, sponsored by Unilever.

Laura finished her post-doc with a placement at Unilever’s Port Sunlight research centre, investigating skin irritation caused by anti-perspirants. This introduced her to the world of clinical and consumer testing in which she was to make her career.

After Unilever, she accepted a position in clinical research at Hill-Top in Chelmsford, before taking the position of Head of Clinical Sciences at RSSL, based at the Reading University campus.  She began to quickly grow the turnover of her department, building a reputation for quality and reliability.  From RSSL, Laura worked as Clinical Research Manager for a small spin-out company in Swansea, Cyden.  Then in 2013 Laura decided to take up a new challenge in her career – starting her own business.

Her previous employer, RSSL, had taken the difficult decision to close its Clinical Services department and there was an opportunity to purchase the assets.  Laura had the support of some ex-colleagues and a local entrepreneur who offered advice to those thinking about starting their own business. That discussion on advice led to a commitment of investment and in the early part of 2013, Reading Clinical Research Ltd (RCR) was formed.  Starting a new business is challenging and stressful, it is taking a big risk and not everyone can take that step – but Laura did, and she would talk with great enthusiasm and excitement about her new company.

RCR has had a successful first 18 months, with rapid growth in turnover and a solid reputation for providing a quality service. It now employs eight people and the whole team, directors and investors are committed to continuing with what Laura started.

Laura joined the Society of Cosmetic Scientists in May 2003 and was an active member and supporter of the SCS.  She became a Member of Council in May 2011 and was Chair of the Scientific Programme Committee and the SCS Formulate Working Group during her time on Council.  In these roles Laura was responsible for organising lectures and symposiums, as well as Formulate – the major UK annual exhibition for the industry.  RCR is also an exhibitor at SCS Formulate.  Laura was also a member of the Wales and West Regional Development Group and gave presentations for the Society on several occasions.

Laura met her partner and soulmate Chris at Durham University in 1989.  She was Chris’ constant companion for 25 years, and a loving and devoted mother of their daughters, Emilia and Abigail, who were central to her life.

Laura was a quiet but strong and solid individual and a friend to many, who had already overcome a huge health challenge when in 2006 she discovered that she had a cancer. It was caught early and an operation to remove it was ultimately successful.

Laura unexpectedly and tragically suffered a stroke on Thursday 9 October 2014.  In the following days she had started to make good progress in her recovery at the John Radcliffe Hospital and a place had been arranged for her at a specialist centre where she could undertake an accelerated programme of rehabilitation. Then without warning, during the early hours of 16 October, her condition suddenly deteriorated and she passed away soon after 9am with Chris by her side. Her death was sudden and unexpected and a huge loss to all who knew and loved Laura.  Anyone who met Laura couldn’t help but warm to her and her beautiful smile.  She will be sorely missed.