Ian King, 1954-2012

February 16, 2012

Over the past 30 years, whenever there was an important decision to be made in the UK student movement, Ian King almost certainly played some role in it.

Born on 20 June 1954, Mr King studied at the University of Stirling as an undergraduate, and it was there that he first became involved with students' unions. In 1976 he was named general manager at York St John University students' union, where he spent two and a half years. He then moved on to the Polytechnic of Wales, serving as general manager of its union from 1978 to 1981.

In 1981, he was appointed to the students' union of Manchester Polytechnic. The National Union of Students' obituary for Mr King describes this role as "one of the most challenging" during this period because of the union's support for the 1984-85 miners' strike.

After leaving Manchester, Mr King joined the Birmingham Guild of Students as general manager and remained there for the next decade. He also served in the Association of Managers in Students' Unions.

By this time he had built a reputation for expertise that led to him being consulted by NUS officers on key issues. The union said it could always "be sure of his integrity, confidentiality and availability".

His role in the national student movement was cemented when he joined the NUS as chief executive of NUS Services Ltd. The union praised Mr King for working at a "hectic pace" and "increasing [NUSSL's] effectiveness and making it more accessible to its members".

Mr King enjoyed travel and sport, particularly cricket. A passionate fan of the arts, he was a supporter of the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Matt Hyde, chief executive of the NUS, said that Mr King would be remembered not only for his flamboyant outfits at NUS conferences, but also for the many generations of students he helped to develop.

Mr Hyde said he was one of the many beneficiaries of Mr King's mentoring.

"He was particularly adept at getting the best out of successive...student officers and mentoring them, supporting them and developing them as leaders," he said.

Mr Hyde added that Mr King "had a great sense of fun and pride in what he was doing, and seemed to work all the hours God sent to do the best he could for students. He was a very caring person and a larger-than-life character. If you asked anyone involved in the student movement over the past 30 years, they'd know Ian and they'd speak very highly of him. We miss him greatly, but we have lots of happy memories of him."

Mr King died of a brain tumour on 17 January. He is survived by his wife, Becky, and his daughter.


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