Regina Kibel obituary

Champion of adult education in local government and member of many governing and advisory bodies

My aunt, Regina Kibel, who has died aged 91, devoted her life to adult education. She joined the staff of the public sector union Nalgo in the early 1950s, becoming assistant to the education officer. Together they expanded the Nalgo Correspondence Institute.

The institute offered correspondence and residential courses, filling the chronic under-provision of tuition for local government officers to gain the professional qualifications necessary for promotion. At any one time, around 5,000 students, from secretaries to trading standards officers, would be on NCI courses. Reggie took over as education officer in 1977.

Later, NCI adapted to support local authority colleges by providing them with tailored study materials and programmes. Reggie pressed for the establishment of standards across the sector and, when the Council for the Accreditation of Correspondence Colleges was established, NCI was the first to be accredited. At Nalgo she also managed the team that trained the union’s army of voluntary activists, and oversaw the training of its staff of several hundred.

Reggie was a selfless and astute member of many governing and advisory bodies, and she continued to deploy her experience, skills and wise counsel long after her retirement in 1991. She served on the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council, where she also stood in as chief executive, and for 14 years was on the board of governors of the Westminster adult education service. For this and her other community service (with Westminster Almshouses, Soho Parish School and Harrowby and District Residents’ Association), she was appointed MBE in 2017.

Her parents, Joshua Kibel and Mary (nee Jacobs), had arrived from eastern Europe via Germany in 1924, and her father took up a post at the New Synagogue in Stamford Hill, north-east London. Reggie was born in Hackney, followed by a brother, Maurice, 10 years later. Her school was evacuated to Oxford for part of the second world war; back in London she studied economics at the London School of Economics from 1944 to 1948. Not long after graduating she joined Nalgo.

A life-long member of the Labour party, she was part-time adviser to several MPs, most recently Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton North.

Her colleagues have commented on her kindness and personal concern. She had some eccentricities and quirks but I will always remember Auntie Regina as one of the cleverest and most interesting people I have known. When she gave birthday presents to my two children she always had an eye to their education – and I adored her for it.

She is survived by me and my brother, David, her great-nephew, Jake, and great-niece, Ella.

Anne Kibel

The GuardianTramp

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