Obituary - Paul Sandell

Former Lord Kelvin Award recipient dies

By Philippa Martin-King

At the end of February 2012, the French IEC NC (National Committee) announced the death on 9 February of one of their countrymen, a former Lord Kelvin Award recipient, Paul Sandell.

photo  Paul SANDELL
Paul Sandell lecturing a group of TC experts in October 2009 (SC 23E, Grenoble, France).

Associated with the IEC for decades

Paul Sandell's association with the IEC goes back many decades, to 1946. Indeed, he was the very first Chairman of IEC TC 23: Electrical accessories, a committee that was formed in 1934. Despite the fact that he was over 90, he had an active and rapid brain, and right up until a few months before his death, was still taking part in technical matters, addressing meetings and participating in TC 64 MT 4: Effects of current passing through the body, and TC 64/MT 9: Disconnecting times and related matters.

Michel Dell'ova, Chairman of IEC SC 23E: Circuit-breakers and similar equipment for household use, remarked that he felt honoured to have known Sandell. "I came to know Paul Sandell through our IEC standardization work and met not only an extremely professional person who was a real pleasure to work with, but someone who became a true friend. We'll all miss his sense of humour, his intelligence and his dedication."

Awarded the French Légion d'Honneur

Ten years after he had been awarded the Lord Kelvin Award for his exceptional long-term achievements in his work with the IEC, on 22 July 2006 Sandell was made by Presidential decree Chevalier, which in English can be translated as 'Knight', in France’s highest order, l'ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.

The order was originally established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 and rewards men and women, whether French citizens or foreign nationals, for their outstanding achievements in military or civilian life. In 2006, 120 guests were present to celebrate the event. It was a tribute to Sandell's electrotechnical standardization work, both for the French nation and internationally.

The IEC was well represented at the ceremony and members, both Old Fellows (former IEC officers and senior officials) and active participants, presented Sandell with gifts, some edible and some of a more historical or cultural nature. He was also given the official greetings of the IEC President and its General Secretary, and those of the Secretary of the IEC Old Fellows group.

For the then 86-year old Sandell, the occasion was a moving one. In his speech to those present, he underlined the importance of the event, not only for him personally, his family and his village, but also as a demonstration of international cooperation and the hard work of so many people in different parts of the world. "I am particularly honoured by the gift I have received from the IEC Old Fellows," he said. "For me, a Frenchman, the Meissen porcelain made by the German Royal Manufactory to celebrate the 1990 Berlin reunification has a very special significance."

Former head of French delegation

Throughout his life, Paul Sandell, IEC Lord Kelvin Award winner in 1996, played a leading role, whether as a member or head of the French delegation, or President, in no less than 130 working groups, subcommittees and technical committees. In particular, his name will always be associated with the plethora of electrical accessories – cables, conductors, plugs, devices and so on – that are to be found today in homes, offices, hospitals and public buildings. Dell'ova adds, "Among these devices, his major and well known contribution was made in the field of residual current devices which play a premium role in protection of people against electric shocks."

Sandell spent much of his life promoting European and international standardization on a global level. During the course of his travels, he visited 41 different countries and met with countless representatives in numerous locations. A humanist by nature, Sandell mastered French, Russian, English and German.

Forget semantics

Sandell advocated that much more could be achieved by sitting down and talking face to face than by arguing about semantics. Throughout his career, the motto he adopted to put a face on electricity was that of 'Restoring the human element to the electrotechnical world'.

photo  Paul SANDELL Paul Sandell lecturing a group of TC experts in October 2009 (SC 23E, Grenoble, France).
officierlh Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur– a silver medal of 40 mm in diameter attached by a red ribbon of 27 mm in width.
paul_sandell Paul Sandell is seen here accompanied by Marie-Chantal Jolland, Mayor of Saint Antoine l’Abbaye and André Suisse, former Mayor of Sandell's locality.