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OBITUARIES – Don Liversedge, 1917-2015

Don Liversedge, who has died at the age of 98, was born in Llanelli on 30 June 1917. Soon afterwards his family moved to Addiscombe (Surrey), and then to Bexhill-on-Sea. His father died when he was 14, and his mother opened a guest-house in Bexhill, which Don assisted in running. During the Second World War Don was in the army and served in Northern Ireland. In 1952-54 he studied PPE at Ruskin College Oxford, where he met his lifelong partner Diana Cant at a college reunion in 1959. He then trained as a careers officer and worked for Herts County Council advising school-leavers. In about 1975 he moved to a similar job with the London Borough of Hillingdon, retiring in 1982.

Don’s family background was non-religious: a christening arranged by his grandfather was cancelled by his mother! He was active in the humanist movement, serving for many years as a trustee and honorary representative of the then South Place Ethical Society. He was also a founder member of Harrow Humanists in the 1960s, together with Alex Dawn, Henry & Ruth Young, and Rosemary Bennett. He also chaired the Harrow Association of Voluntary Services, and promoted the “Agenda 21” environmental initiative in Harrow. He was an election agent for the Labour Party in the 1945 election. He was a tremendous committee man, and is said to have sat on 27 committees, on behalf of the many organisations he belonged to.

Don’s interests included jazz: he ran a jazz appreciation group at Conway Hall; cars: he learned to drive at an early age, and owned an early Ford which he bought for £7 10 shillings; biology and psychology: he was a member of the Galton Institute. He was carried through his long life by a quirky sense of humour, an equable temper, and a lifelong interest in education.

Charles Rudd, with thanks to Diana Cant

Christopher Ormell, Director of the Philosophy for Educational Renewal Group (PER) writes:

Don joined the PER Group in the late 1990s when it was based at the University of North London (UNL). He was firmly of the view that something as radical as ‘renewal’ was needed in education. In 2000 there was an impasse in electing a new Group Chair and Don gallantly offered to take on the role. He was instrumental in taking the Group to Conway Hall and making Conway Hall its base.

Don was not a theorist, but we much appreciated his realistic advice, and every now and then he came up with ‘mots’ which expressed important insights. His best was to define education as the process needed to turn youth into the “people we would like to be”. On Don’s watch the Group began to grow, if only slowly, and it became more firmly established than it had been at UNL. The Group staged a small Dinner in 2007 on The Lotus in Millwall Inner Dock to celebrate Don’s 90th birthday. Don retired as Group Chair in 2010. 1n 2013 we invited him to be the special guest at the conference at Conway Hall to celebrate the Group’s first 20 years, but sadly he declined to come. We have lost a good friend, and a trusty, realistic advisor who took the long view.

Donald had been in hospital and care home for his last 5 months. His wish was for no funeral or memorial meeting and for his body to be left to medical science. NB






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