After National Service Michael went to Balliol College, Oxford to read Geography and later qualified as a solicitor. His step-father was also a solicitor.
Michael became a partner in the City firm Coward Chance where he specialised in advising large companies and multinationals.
He was a member of St. Peter's and St. John's Church and on the Kensington Deanery Synod. He was also a trustee of the Church Urban Fund and of the Working Men's College and chaired the Management Committee and the Finance and General Purposes Committee.
He lived for many years in East London until he moved to Notting Hill seven years ago.
Wednesday July 26, 2006
Michael Mockridge, who has died aged 70, was a lawyer with a passion for social causes. His voluntary work improved the lives of young people in the East End of London and brought recognition to the social history of older people in Kensington and Chelsea.
Son of Cyril, a printer, and Rose, Michael was educated at Shene grammar school and Balliol College, Oxford. He met his first wife, the author Penelope Farmer, at Oxford.
After completing national service, Michael followed his flamboyant stepfather "Tiger" Tim Taylor into the law firm Coward Chance in 1959, becoming a partner in 1967. He helped to negotiate the merger with Clifford Turner, to create Clifford Chance, now one of the biggest international law firms in the world. His work included leading the legal team that privatised the water industry on behalf of the then Department of the Environment.
He retired early in 1993 to spend time with his second family and pursue his passionate commitment to social causes through involvement with local and national charities. This passion had been awakened when he and several university friends had run a youth club at Dame Colet House Settlement in east London. Asked many legal questions by the club's young people, they started a legal advice centre. This later became the Stepney Green Law Centre, one of the earliest in Britain.
For many years Michael was executive chair of Dame Colet House, where he met his second wife, Olivia Dix, a charity worker with a particular interest in health. He resigned in the early 1990s after moving to Kensington, because he believed it should be run entirely by local people, but he continued to be involved in East End schemes.
Michael was a trustee of the Mental Health Foundation, the College of Health and the Working Men's College for Men and Women, and an independent chair hearing NHS complaints.
When he moved to Kensington and Chelsea, he became involved in two local charities - History Talk, a local history group which he chaired for several years, and Campden Charities, a grant-making trust with a brief to alleviate poverty in Kensington. For the Church of England he was a trustee of the Church Urban Fund, a member of the review of synodical government and of the local deanery synod and parochial church council.
A modest man, Michael worked hard and unobtrusively, making full use of his legal and negotiating skills and showing infinite courtesy, patience and good humour. His colleagues at History Talk regarded him as "a perfect gent".
His is survived by his wife and their daughter Hannah; by Clare and Thomas, his children from his first marriage; and by three grandchildren.
An e-mail to the Editor from Trevor Griffiths, a Shene contemporary of Michael Mockridge:
Many thanks for your email. Strangely, I was only thinking about Michael Mockridge a few minutes earlier. I had been listening to the Radio Four programme about techniques for developing a good memory, and remembered that once I was understudying Mockridge for a school play and he was off sick so I spent one evening learning the part. (I would tell my tutees about it and my method sometimes when they said how difficult it was to learn chemistry!) The next day, when I was confident I knew the part, I was told by the master in charge (Mr White?) that Mockridge was better and would be back in time for the performance. Thus was my thespian opportunity quenched!
Michael Mockridge is yet another of Shene Grammar School's products who has led a productive and honourable life, and I am glad to have known him, and to find out what he did after he left school.