Our friend and comrade, Dai, a stalwart of his union and the Brent Labour Party over many decades, has just died. It is fitting that we remember his contribution to Brent education, society and politics.
Son of a Welsh miner, Dai began his teaching and political career soon after coming to London in the 1950s, where he joined the Communist Party. He met his Australian wife, Monica, who became his lifelong partner in the struggle for teachers’ rights and socialism. Fortunately for us, the Australian government refused him entry because of his CP membership. In those ‘Cold War’ days, card-carrying members of the CP, were also banned from promotion to headships of schools, which energised Dai into the campaign to remove the ban.
Dai was a leading figure in the Brent Teachers Association for many years, in which role he helped to negotiate some of the best teacher/pupil ratios in the country, as well as premium terms and conditions for all teachers. As well as his union activities, Dai became headteacher at Oakington Manor in Tokyngton (having previously taught in Wembley High and other Brent schools). He was a school governor at Byron Court for many years also. In the late 1970s, he became the full-time NUT North London Regional Official
Dai joined the Labour Party in the 1960s, soon becoming a key activist. He served in most of the key party offices assisting generations of young activists like the late Paul Daisley, Ann John and me to develop. His passion, (apart from his family, his native Wales, rugby and cricket – he was a keen rugby player as a young man), was, of course, education policy and what he regarded as its natural corollary, socialism. He was one of the stalwarts who helped the party back from the brink in the 1980s. He stood for the Council in a number of ‘unwinnable’ wards and on retirement from the union, for Tokyngton in 1992, which we narrowly lost.
Mon and Dai retired to Wales (Chepstow) in 1996 and enjoyed some happy years there until Mon sadly died in 2002 leaving the hugely impractical Dai alone, as all their three children had made careers in Australia and the Far East. A few years ago, he contracted Alzheimer’s Disease and had to go into a home in Somerset, where he died recently. At the funeral service in Melksham recently, which, due to short notice and the election campaign, only a small number of friends from Brent were able to attend, a tribute was made on behalf of all Brent people, with the promise to have a local memorial service in the borough shortly. He was an outstanding example of the best that the tempestuous Brent educational and political scene has produced over the last five decades. Dai is survived by his sons, Andrew, Paul and daughter, Cathy.
Cllr Jim Moher