Alan Christie obituary

Other lives: Dedicated proponent of corporate social responsibility

My brother-in-law Alan Christie, who has died aged 68 after suffering from a heart condition, was a proponent of corporate social responsibility and for many years the director of community affairs at Levi’s. He helped to pioneer work that set the tone for the way in which multinational businesses funded efforts to combat Aids.

At Levi’s from 1988 to 2004, he expanded the company’s grant funding programme to support early projects to beat Aids and to promote education about Aids/HIV, particularly in southern Africa.

Among the initiatives he supported was the Positive Lives project, a photographic portrayal of people affected by Aids that became a global phenomenon and was seen by millions. While at Levi’s he also founded, with the former European commissioner Étienne Davignon, a business network on corporate social responsibility called CSR Europe.

Alan was born in St Andrews, Fife, to Alexander, a miner and trade unionist, and his wife, Jane (nee Barclay), who worked in a paper mill. After Kirkcaldy high school he went to Heriot Watt University, where his degree was in town planning but his education was in student politics. In 1977 he was elected Scottish president of the National Union of Students, and for two years from 1978-80 was deputy president of the NUS UK during the presidency of Trevor Phillips.

Alan Christie, right, with Nelson Mandela in the 1990s. Meeting the South African leader was one of Christie’s proudest moments
Alan Christie, right, with Nelson Mandela in the 1990s. Meeting the South African leader was one of Christie’s proudest moments Photograph: from family/Unknown

From 1980 until 1983 he was secretary general of the British Youth Council, based in London, then moved to Brussels as secretary general of the Council of European National Youth Committees. There he met my sister, Moya Campbell, who in 2000 became his life partner and in 2008 his wife. In 1988, still in Brussels, he took up the job as director of community affairs at Levi’s and through that work in 1993 met Nelson Mandela, one of the proudest moments of his life.

In 2006 he returned to the UK to become a director first at the Commission for Racial Equality and then at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, helping to shape the 2010 Equalities Act and working with businesses to promote human rights.

He retired in 2015 and afterwards retained his trusteeship of the Runnymede Trust, the race equality thinktank, and volunteered briefly as a prison monitor before developing a serious heart condition.

A loyal Labour party and Rangers supporter, a devotee of Tunnock’s teacakes, a pretty terrible driver and a consummate player of Trivial Pursuit, to his friends he was a wise adviser.

He is survived by Moya and by his sister, Loraine.

Shareen Campbell

The GuardianTramp

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