TRIBUTE FROM MARION BENNATHAN

(This was written on 'The Nurture Group' headed paper and intended for an AWMC/AWCEBD tribute. It was not read at Allan's funeral, as Marion could not be there, and John Visser from the same organisations provided his own text)

Allan and I worked together for many years helping to run what was originally the Association of Workers for Maladjusted Children. For me, he embodied to a high degree the qualities of the people who founded the Association and kept it going for half a century.

He was highly intelligent and committed to understanding what made our group of children behave in the ways that so many people find upsetting and incomprehensible. He had a profound insight into his pupils which combined with his great authority in school made him a skilled and therapeutic teacher and leader. When I became psychologist to Red Hill School, I would be warmly received by Sue into the home which she had made so charming, and Allan and I would talk shop into the night, to my enrichment.

Running the AWMC, particularly its marathon 5-day annual conference was something he did extraordinarily well. He had a great capacity for the detail of the work and a gift for knowing everybody present, apparently, and for making sure that they all felt welcome. I think this contributed greatly to the quality the conferences had and still have of providing a relaxing and enjoyable time amongst people who reall know the realities of the work.

One of the tasks which fell to him as General Secretary of the Association was to lead the response to Government consultations. He would ask for contributions from members, and if none were forthcoming, he would himself write the response, always wonderfully composed and to the point.

I rather think that off his own familiar territory at Red Hill he was less sure of himself than his talents merited. For a long time he could not be persuaded to lecture at our conferences. When he finally did, he was excellent, succinct and well informed.

He was also witty, part of his skill with words which was always so evident. It was typical of Allan that in his last days, when it was not clear how much he could understand, and Sue asked him if he knew who she was, he replied "If you don't know who you are, I can hardly help you".

I once complimented him on his Parents' Evening, which I attended, where he hosted the meeting with charm and courtesy. I said it was the sort of event that one would expect at a minor public school. "A MINOR public school!" he said, "How dare you!" In fact one of his many strengths was his care and compassion for parents, whose grief and anxiety at what has happened to their son is often overlooked. But not by Allan.

My thoughts have been very much with Sue and her children in these last difficult weeks. I know too that his grandchildren, in whom he so delighted will greatly miss him. He will live on in their memory and they will be proud of him when they are old enough to understand what he achieved.

He will also live on in the lives of the many boys, now men, who he helped to find their way through their troubles and to make something of their lives.

I grieve his loss; the world seems a poorer place for his leaving it and I am very sorry not to share in the final goodbye. But I am with you all in my thoughts.

Marion Bennathan
Vice President SEBDA

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