To our fellows humanist friends and members of Harrow Humanists :-
JOHN RAYNER (1929 2014)
Harrow Humanists thoughts at John Rayners funeral
John had a great sense of humour, and the very useful ability to challenge hard, without causing offence. He felt passionately about the need to tackle the issue of over-population in the World; hence his membership of Population Matters.
At Harrow Humanists we will greatly miss his incisive thinking and steadfast presence.
When my late husband and I attended Harrow Humanist meetings, John was always there, with his wry sense of humour and lively face. He expressed opinions that at times were contentious, but hit the nail on the head, and were a wake-up call to everyone.
Harrow Humanists will sorely miss him.
I owe to John my recent familiarity with Albert Einsteins theory of special relativity. John thought there was something wrong with it, deserving to be brought to the attention of the Royal Society. I was not sure, but spent many happy hours reading up on it, and arguing about it at coffee mornings.
On such interactions scientific knowledge thrives.
John loved books and as a result of being so widely read, held confident views on many serious issues which included political, economic and scientific matters.
He also enjoyed challenging visiting speakers at humanist meetings.
In addition, he was highly sociable and was happy to organise outings and day trips for groups of friends including, each summer, to performances at the Globe theatre.
He also had a mischievous side which included as he put it lowering the tone of the conversation with a scurrilous story or a rather rude joke.
We certainly will miss him.
John Rayner was undoubtedly the most distinguished treasurer in the history of Harrow Humanists. In fact he was a pillar of the society in every way. He contributed so much to the general running of the group that his presence will be sorely missed.
John was a thoughtful person, both in the sense of being considerate towards others, and in his concern for world problems.
He wrote a letter to all the MPs at Westminster, with a copy of his booklet Elements of Macro-economics, about what he saw as the weakness of the British economy.
Another of Johns concerns was Humanist non-religious ethics and he wrote a booklet in 2009: Comprehensive rational ethics'.
John was a well-known and well-loved speaker at Humanist groups around London and Conway Hall. At Harrow, while I was Chair of Harrow Humanists, he led vigorous discussions on such topics as population growth and the ethical dimensions to politics.
Sadly, I didnt know John for very long but found him to be a kind and courteous man
When I joined Harrow Humanists about six years ago I quickly became friends with John Rayner, and was encouraged by him to attend the groups weekly Tuesday coffee mornings which he organised.
From there John and I, and sometimes other members, regularly went on outings. These were greatly enhanced by Johns vast knowledge of history, the sciences and the arts, as well as his wit and sense of humour.
John also suggested I might be interested in the South Place Ethical Society and I enjoyed attending many talks and other events with him at Conway Hall.
He was an active contributor on these occasions. Right up to the Sunday before his death he had organised informal discussions at Conway Hall on Sunday afternoons, and these were greatly enjoyed.
John was unfailingly polite, considerate and conscientious, and will be greatly missed.
From TL (Hon Chair, Harrow Humanists)
In conclusion; John was a Humanist and a living example of how to be good, without gods.
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.
Dons 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.
Dons 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.
GILL PHARAOH (19 2015)
Gill Pharaoh, a member of Harrow Humanists, died on July 21st 2015, at
her own request, at Lifecircle in Basel, Switzerland, (www.lifecircle.ch),
accompanied by her Partner of twenty five years. Gill was seventy five.
Gill`s career was almost entirely in Palliative Care with years spent
in the Home Care team of a hospice in Romford, Essex, followed by a management
role with Marie Curie organisation in London, and latterly with Motor
Neuron Disease Association. Gill retired about ten years ago, and moved
to Pinner in 2010. Her health deteriorated after Shingles in 2010, and
together with tinnitus, disabling back pain and near permanent exhaustion,
she felt that her life was complete. She joined several organisations
which proved very helpful with advice and warnings, notably SOARS (Society
for Old Age Rational Suicide) at www.soars.org.uk
and FATE (Friends At The End) at www.friends-at-the-end.org.uk
Because she had no recognised terminal illness, and was familiar with
UK palliative care, her decision attracted a lot of publicity, especially
following a Sunday Times article published on August 2nd 2015, with which
Gill had cooperated prior to her trip to Switzerland.
IKE ASCHER (19 2015)
Ike Ascher was Principal Lecturer in Government and Political Thought
at the School of Business Studies, City of London Polytechnic and London
University Lecturer in Sociology and Sino-Soviet Affairs.
MIKE SAVAGE (26th August 1937 - 25th May 2016)
Mike Savage, who was Chair of Harrow Humanists between 2006 and 2013,
died at the age of 78 after a protracted and increasingly disabling pulmonary
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