Bernard Selwyn (1925-2013)

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We are sad that our vice-president Bernard Selwyn died on 14 May after a short illness. He was 87.

Bernard was a chartered surveyor with the Greater London Council. He was a member of our executive committee (1982-2006), our parliamentary agent (1993-2005) and our spokesman for London.

Bernard was immensely generous. In 1994 he suffered a serious leg-injury when a police-car careered into him while he was walking in London. He fought for, and won, compensation which he gave to the society. He also bought us a complete set of Ordnance Survey Explorer maps when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act’s right to roam meant that we needed the new series showing commons and other access land.

His work as our parliamentary agent appealed to his meticulous mind. He studied all the private bills each year and ensured we petitioned against any which threatened our concerns. He drafted amendments to public and private bills and undertook extensive research. His knowledge of our history was prodigious. He played an important part in many private bills, such as the London Local Authorities Bill in 2002 and the Cross Rail Bill (fighting the closure of Dog Kennel Bridge and its public footpath near Iver, Bucks) in 2008.

Bernard Selwyn

Bernard Selwyn

He took an intense interest in the legal arrangements for our office lease in Henley, reminding us usually many months ahead of an impending lease renewal or rent review. He visited the office with his measuring equipment and made detailed plans for us.

When he retired from our executive committee our then chairman, the late Rodney Legg, said: ‘For as long as I can remember, Bernard has been our direct parliamentary link, our spokesman for London and the fount of all knowledge on our office lease and other property matters.

‘He enthuses over small print and footnotes in a way that the rest of us may treasure a rainbow or sunset. Little words are treated like best friends. I think of him along with our founder Lord Eversley, as the spirit of the society. They shared a vital quality — persistence — and displayed hidden depths. Bernard always knows a lot more than he lets on. He is our living archive.’

Our vice-president Roger de Freitas said he had been ‘a vital force for the society’.

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