A firm believer in the right of all children to the best education, he worked determinedly and effectively to carry through this principle from his arrival in Barnet in 1974, just as a comprehensive system was being established.
He was educated at High Storrs grammar school, Sheffield, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he read English and history. He had taught at Bolton school and the West Sussex College of Higher Education before entering educational administration in Hertfordshire in 1971.
Neil became Barnet's director in 1986. His seven years in the post encompassed enormous, sometimes turbulent, educational and political changes. He enjoyed the challenges of those years - falling rolls, curricular and structural reforms - and relished managing change in Margaret Thatcher's constituency. Schools and politicians trusted his judgment and respected his advice.
Neil had many passions: music, sport, travel, books, writing. One of his chief delights was theatre, both watching and performing.
After retiring in 1993, he represented the Diocese of St Albans on the Hertfordshire education committee, thus returning, by happy coincidence, to the authority where he first started out in educational administration.
He remained tenaciously loyal to school, colleagues and Rotarians. He kept his friends for life. His family was most dear to him; in 1960 he married Irene, who survives him. They have two sons and two grandsons.
John Bailey succeeded Neil Gill as director of education in Barnet