A genuine Liberal individualist has died aged 92. Gordon Bevans had been President of Leeds North East Constituency Liberal Democrats for over twenty years and before that had been a party officer and City Council candidate for the Liberal Party.
He left school at sixteen and went into the post office and then did his war service in India. After the war he went back into the GPO but decided to study for a degree in psychology. This he accomplished over quite a number of years of external study, including via Birkbeck College in the University of London. He then became a civil servant, applying his qualification within the Ministry of Labour. Eventually he was able to switch to clinical practice and he came to St James’s Hospital Leeds in 1964 - and never moved, ending as Principal Psychologist there, retiring in 1985. He was also a statistical expert and contributed to a number of academic papers.
Gordon was a fine musician and played violin and sometimes viola for many years in the Sinfonia of Leeds. He was for a time president of the Leeds Music Club and this facilitated his great love of chamber music. For many years he was a regular attender at the annual Dartington music festivals. Some years ago he and I used to supplement our political discussions by playing oboe and violin duets at his home.
A passionate internationalist Gordon was for many years chair of the Leeds United Nations Association in which position he was a very persistent lobbyist for a range of topical causes.
Gordon adored discussion and debate and latterly would pester colleagues to come to his home to grapple with his latest ideas - some of which were sound but many of which were curious to say the least! He read widely and some of the books and learned journals fed his incipient conspiracy theories. Another aspect of visits to the Bevans’ household was that his wife, Joan, would proclaim herself a Labour supporter and markedly depart for the kitchen whilst Liberal colleagues were around!
Following Joan’s death eighteen months ago Gordon’s demands became more importunate and a voicemail message a few days before his told me I had to respond to his latest proposal within five minutes if we were going to resolve Britain’s current problem. I wasn’t able to call him back, so perhaps it’s all my fault!
All his Liberal colleagues held him in great regard and those who visited him were concerned that in recent months he appeared to be neglecting himself. He died just a few days after being admitted to his former hospital. It was a great relief to everyone who knew that he would have found even the best care home totally impossible.