David Oldershaw obituary

Other lives: Social worker and local government stalwart whose work focused on the needs of families in Leicestershire

My uncle, David Oldershaw, who has died from cancer aged 69, was a social worker and community activist.

David was a man of integrity and principle, committed to social justice and empowering people, gifted in pulling the best from others. Colleagues at Leicester city council, where from 2002 he was service director, resources, social care and health, remember him as thoughtful, attentive, reasonable; someone who could bring big ideas into reality, but not seeking the limelight, often steering things invisibly from the back seat.

David’s dedication to the Leicestershire community, in which he lived almost all his life, was clear in his local activism. He was a popular member and public advocate of Stoneygate Conservation Area Society for more than four decades, and served as chairman for nine years. A believer in people and in supporting the most vulnerable, David served as treasurer for Leicester City of Sanctuary, a charity helping refugees and asylum seekers, and was a Labour party member. Latterly he built on his lifelong interest in art to become a member of community art groups.

Born the son of Ruth (nee Clayton), a former nurse, and Henry Oldershaw, David was one of four sons who grew up on the site of their father’s building business in South Wigston. After leaving Guthlaxton comprehensive school in the town, he took a first degree in English literature at Exeter University, then trained as a social worker at the University of Kent in Canterbury. David’s career then focused on the needs of children and families within the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire.

By the time of his retirement in 2007 he was service director, strategy, commissioning, performance and business support for Leicester; his staff parking space was later revealed, after archaeological excavations in 2012, to be above the grave of Richard III.

In 1984 David married Vanessa Morris, also a social worker. They were a close and complementary couple, with an endearing silliness and capacity for fun. The death of Nessa, his soulmate, from multiple system atrophy in 2009 deeply affected David. He wrote: “It has made me think a lot about letting go. I know the old paradox that death is part of life and because memories and experiences become part of us there is a kind of continuation, and in a sense, a living on.”

An article published in the Guardian in 2010 describing the scattering of some of Nessa’s ashes in her favourite place in New York (Macy’s bra department, a shopping mecca for big women) reflected David’s desire to find fun in even the saddest moments. With his eccentric humour, warmth, generosity and full appreciation of life, David had many devoted friends and family, through whom he will achieve “a living on”.

He is survived by his brothers, Noel, John and Andrew, and nine nieces and nephews.

Tom Oldershaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
David Peryer obituary
Other lives: Chair of the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering

Adrian Peryer

25, Jan, 2018 @3:38 PM

Article image
Perlita Harris obituary
Other lives: Academic whose writing gave voice to the experience of adopted people

Joan Fletcher

31, Jan, 2019 @4:14 PM

Article image
Regina Kibel obituary
Champion of adult education in local government and member of many governing and advisory bodies

Anne Kibel

07, Feb, 2018 @5:58 PM

Article image
Geraint Thomas obituary
Other lives Much-valued councillor and former geography teacher who led Crawley’s response to the climate emergency

Ciarán Mc Mahon

19, Feb, 2020 @5:37 PM

Article image
Matthew Horwood obituary
Other lives: Teacher, councillor and mayor respected in his Suffolk community

William Horwood

28, Sep, 2018 @2:35 PM

Article image
Margaret Kaye obituary
Other lives: Social worker who was a friend and protector to children from disadvantaged backgrounds

Paul Greengrass

31, Jan, 2020 @11:37 AM

Article image
Olive Keidan obituary
Psychiatric social worker, lecturer and textbook editor

Lois Keidan

08, Jan, 2020 @4:57 PM

Article image
Marianne Ferguson Rice obituary
Other lives: Teacher, social worker, Quaker and international charity supporter

Lynne Barty

15, Mar, 2018 @5:01 PM

Article image
Reg Chrimes obituary
Other lives: Long-serving Labour councillor and committed educationist

Mike Chrimes

04, Oct, 2021 @3:32 PM

Article image
Peter Baird obituary
Other lives: Teacher and social worker who had a passion for Russia and would smuggle banned books such as works by Solzhenitsyn

Rachel Baird

02, Feb, 2018 @6:02 PM