Dennis Mitchell obituary

Other lives: A former member of staff at GCHQ, he campaigned for a better world

My father, Dennis Mitchell, who has died aged 78, lived by his principles. He inspired many young people to take a more active interest in global equality and environmental responsibility.

He was born into a working-class family in Hunslet, West Yorkshire, where his intellect and gift for maths became apparent. However, his family could not support his education beyond the age of 16, so he went out to work, interspersed by national service in the RAF.

In the early 1950s Dennis joined Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and moved to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. In 1956 he married Beryl Poole, with whom he had two children, Ruth and Mary. He was then posted to Australia, where Kay and I were born.

A loyal worker at GCHQ, he enjoyed a long career but was not afraid to express what he felt was right. He joined Cheltenham Action for Peace, a group that advocated multilateral nuclear disarmament, and was one of the few at GCHQ to oppose Margaret Thatcher.

Dennis was a passionate rambler, often returning to the dales, fells and mountains. He was a keen supporter of Leeds United and his love of football was passed on to many others when he managed Prestbury Youth. His success led Cheltenham Town to engage his services with their youth team, and he discovered several players who went on to professional careers.

Upon his early retirement in 1985, he co-founded the educational charity Rendezvous, into which he put all his effort. Convinced that we should become a truly international society, he started Global Footsteps, creating links between Cheltenham and places such as Sochi in Russia and Kisumu in Kenya. He encouraged young people to see beyond government and media bias and find out about other cultures for themselves.

Dennis became increasingly concerned about the impact of western lifestyles on the global environment. He vowed never to ride in a motorcar again, a promise he kept. He travelled instead by bus or on his trusty tricycle, which was made in – and which he pedalled back from – Poland.

He is survived by Beryl, his children, and eight grandchildren.

Andrew Mitchell

The GuardianTramp

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