Remembering Derek Honeygold
Many of us are going to have to get used to friends dying from COVID19 over the coming weeks, but this does not lessen the sense of loss. In my case, the first to go is Derek Honeygold, lifelong Liberal/Liberal Democrat and ardent pro-European, who passed away at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow yesterday, after developing pneumonia, at the age of 83. He lived for most of his life in Northwood Hills, in what is now the London borough of Hillingdon, He was a pupil at Pinner County Grammar School, where he excelled in athletics, before doing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, mainly in East Anglia. His twin interests in economics and European matters were by then already forming. He was frustrated that Britain did not join the nascent EEC, so his political gravitation towards the Europhile Jo Grimond as leader of the Liberal Party was a natural trajectory. Britain pulling out of the EU only a few weeks ago must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
As a mature student, Derek took a BSc degree in Economics at Brunel University in Uxbridge, later becoming a lecturer at the same institution. This was the beginning of a long and successful academic career, teaching at the European Business School (now Regent’s University in London) and Thames Valley University, before getting the post of Senior Lecturer in International and European Economics at the University of Hertfordshire. His most important academic publication was a textbook on International Financial Markets. During the tumultuous Spring of 1989, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Derek spent several months in Budapest, after which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office took him on as a consultant and he spent two happy years training Hungarian and other central European dissidents and aspiring leaders on aspects of European economics and democratic government. He also had a spell in Berlin, as a management accountant for the airline BEA.
Though Derek did serve a period as a local Councillor in Hillingdon, and was made a magistrate (JP), his main activity with the Liberal Party and later the Liberal Democrats was within their European and international associated organisations, latterly the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) and Liberal International British Group (LIBG), serving many years as Treasurer of the latter. Although obliged to retire from university teaching he continued his own research into international economic theory and he was a robust participant in policy debates in that field, including at Chatham House, where he was a fixture for several decades. In recent years he had difficulty walking, but his mind remained as alert as ever. In the hackneyed phrase of Times obituaries, he did not suffer fools gladly. But there was also a more gentle, artistic side to his personality of which most people who came into contact with him were probably unaware. Music was a passion. For nearly 20 years, up till 1990, he was Principal of Derek Honeygold Concert Management, through which he promoted more than 250 classical music concerts throughout the United Kingdom, Austria and West Germany.