GRAHAM WILLIAM ASHWORTH CBE DL


Graham was born in Plymouth in 1935, an only child of Frederick and Ivy Ash worth. He lived in Bristol for the first three years of WWII and whilst there had a tonsillectomy and recounted seeing bombs land on the city from his hospital bed. He returned to Plymouth in 1942 with his

parents and saw the destruction of the city during the Blitz and then its development over the following years. He put his interest in buildings and urban development down to these early experiences. Graham was a pupil at Devonport High School which he attended after

gaining a scholarship, and then in 1952 he progressed to the Plymouth School of Art. In October 1955 he went to Liverpool University to study Architecture, going straight into the third year. He reported that he immediately felt at home in Liverpool/Lancashire and put this down to


the fact that his grandfather had been born and brought up in the Rossendale valley until he ran away to join the Royal Marines. His arrival in Liverpool was important for another reason as well, he met Gwyneth Mai…on his very first day in the city!! After completing his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Liverpool in 1959, he went to work at the London County Council Housing Division. The following year, Gwyneth joined him in London after their marriage. He moved onto work for Graham Shankland and then the Civic Trust before returning

to his beloved North West. Whilst working there he was involved in many environmental

studies/campaigns, not least “Operation Springclean” which was a yearlong operation culminating in a two-day inspection by Queen Elizabeth II.


In 1973 he was appointed Professor of Urban Environmental Studies at the University of Salford and continued to work for the University in a variety of ways until 1987 (and then again as a visiting professor between 2004 and 2011). He then became General Director of the Tidy Britain Group until his retirement in 2000 leading the Group in developing significant parts of the Environmental Protection Act for H.M. Government and a government supported Public Education Programme on Sustainable Development (Going for Green). Over the years, Graham was able to influence many environmental, planning and Christian policies.

He called this “A life Alongside”, where he himself did not venture into Politics, but had a parallel life working alongside politicians, providing expertise, advice and influence on numerous boards, councils and committees. Consequently, his insight and ability to plan has left its mark internationally, nationally and especially locally, where, as Chairman of Samlesbury and Cuerdale Parish Council he battled for many local causes.


Throughout his life his “main'' job was never all he did. This started when at the age of seventeen he began lay-preaching around the churches of Devon. His work for churches and Christian organisations continued over the years in many different formats, ranging from “leading from the front”, (as President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 2000) to “hands-on” (helping build houses for “Habitat for Humanity” in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami). In addition to his church work, his “extra-curricular” activities included being President of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) from 1996-2004, a role he thoroughly enjoyed and from which many long-lasting friendships developed. Amazingly, he did have time for leisure activities such as painting and walking and he was pleased to have completed many of the UK’s long distance walks.


And so his final year…Graham has always been determined to live life to the full and his “Big

Birthday” year was no exception! As part of his 80 th birthday celebrations he spent two weeks in Dorset walking the coast path and then some time in London. He returned home to watch England vs New Zealand at T20 cricket, meeting and chatting to his favourite England bowler (Jimmy Anderson) and visiting the Test Match Special commentary box. On his birthday weekend he had family and a few friends round for a barbeque and a get together and the next day had lunch out followed by photos with the immediate family. He then visited the Scilly Isles with Gwyneth which was something he always wanted to do.


All these were done with love and his own special sense of fun, which permeated everything he did. He will be missed by so many people, not least by Gwyneth, his 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren,

who know him as “Grumps”. While we feel his loss greatly, we know that he is in a better place