Former staff and alumni at Bradford University have expressed their sadness at the death of an academic who served the institution for three decades.

Brian Griffiths, who died aged 83 on New Year’s Day, joined the university’s modern languages department in 1973, becoming a major force on its world-renowned interpreter training courses.

A spokesman for the university said: “Despite formally retiring aged 67 in 1997, Brian continued to contribute to our courses, as well as completing ground-breaking work in training interpreters in Baltic and Balkan countries, where he was universally regarded as not just a great teacher, but the perfect English gentleman.”

The funeral for Mr Griffiths, who was awarded an MBE following a 21-year career in the Royal Air Force, will be held today at St Oswald’s Church in Collingham.

His family welcome any donations to the RAF Benevolent Fund.