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Obituary - Sir Roy Harding 1924-2011

Sir Roy Harding, who has died aged 87, left behind an extraordinarily rich legacy of educational achievements thanks to his much-admired work in local authorities across the country. The educational administrator helped pave the way for the Open University, and many other further and higher education institutions in England.

Sir Roy grew up in Liskeard, Cornwall, where his father worked as a postman. After attending the local grammar school he studied maths at King's College London. He graduated at the end of the Second World War and worked in ballistics research before becoming a teacher.

He married Audrey Larkin, a languages teacher, in 1948 and the couple had three children - Alan, Hilary and Paul.

In 1950 Sir Roy moved into local government, working in education administration in county councils in Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Leicestershire.

In Hertfordshire, he helped expand further education courses, laying the foundations of what is now Hertfordshire University. Sir Roy also fast became regarded as a national expert on the expansion of FE.

He became Buckinghamshire's deputy chief education officer in 1960, and from 1966 to 1984 he served as chief education officer. During this period, he championed the expansion of FE in High Wycombe and Slough. Younger administrators, including Sir Tim Brighouse, fondly recall working for him and being coached for their future careers - many went on to become chief education officers themselves.

During the major reorganisation of local government in the 1970s, Sir Roy quietly ensured education remained a priority for councils. He was awarded the CBE in 1978 and knighted in 1985.

Donations to Macmillan Cancer Support and Diabetes UK can be sent via KY Green funeral directors in Aylesbury.

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