Ian Douglas obituary

Other lives: Trade union researcher, financial analyst and treasurer of the MS Society

My friend Ian Douglas, who has died aged 59, was a trade union researcher, financial analyst, treasurer of the MS Society and lifelong supporter of Newcastle United.

Born to Archie Douglas, a chemistry professor, and his wife, Penny (nee Ward), a maths teacher, Ian was the second of four children. He was raised in West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, and attended Heaton comprehensive school (now Heaton Manor school).

He went to Bristol University, where he obtained a first in chemistry. At Bristol in the late 1970s he met Reena Bhavnani. They married, moved to London and had two children. Ian had a short spell working as an assistant to and brief writer for the Labour politician David Blunkett before becoming a trade union researcher. However, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 26, he opted for a change of career.

With one eye on the City, he obtained a master’s with distinction in economics from Birkbeck, University of London, and went on to work as a bond analyst for UBS (then known as Union Bank of Switzerland), where his humour, buoyant personality and intelligence made him popular with colleagues and clients alike.

He travelled widely and the family moved to Singapore in 1996. There, Ian traded fixed income securities and delighted in sampling the food, culture and bustling energy of south-east Asia. After two years, the family returned to London, where Ian eventually had to give up working in the City at the age of 46.

In 2008, Reena died of breast cancer. After a difficult year, Ian went to a school reunion and met Pat Dobson (nee Miller), an early girlfriend. She brought him renewed happiness and they married in 2016.

Ian served on the board of trustees of the MS Society from (2005-12) and as its treasurer (2009-12). In 2011, he helped to organise a charity fundraising dinner for MS Research, which raised about £115,000. He stepped down from the MS Society board shortly afterwards and over the next six years or so his activities became increasingly limited.

He remained a committed supporter of the campaign to change assisted dying legislation and coped with his increasing disability and pain in a humorous, self-deprecating manner.

Ian’s Geordie wit always shone through. He was generous and hospitable, though his stubborn self-will and argumentative nature could occasionally be frustrating for others. Yet he inspired deep love and admiration in the people who knew him, by his humanity, courage and brilliant mind. He chose to take his own life before the MS made him incapable of doing so.

He is survived by Pat, his two children, Anil and Anjuli, from his marriage to Reena, and a brother, David.

Carl Gardner

The GuardianTramp

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