Obituary

10th October 2008 at 01:00
Kenneth Munro

Kenneth Munro, who died on September 23, aged 71, was widely known for his work with the European Commission in Brussels and London and, from 1988 to 1998, as head of the European Commission's Office in Scotland.

Less well known was his interest and role in helping to raise the profile of children's issues at a European level. As the deputy head of the European Commission's office in London, he promoted the work of the European Commission's Childcare Network when it undertook regular reviews of early years provision over the period 1986-96.

Ken understood the significance of the network's recommendation of what is now known as a "whole" child approach to services for young children, rather than one focused on responding separately to "childcare" for working parents and education, and he assisted greatly in raising awareness of the network's findings.

Subsequently, when Ken had taken up his post as head of the European Commission's Office in Scotland, he helped Children in Scotland develop a European dimension to its work. He supported a NordicUK child welfare symposium, organised in Shetland in June 1994. This was the most comprehensive exchange in terms of both programme and representation yet to have taken place, helping to inform subsequent legislation, including the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

As convener of Children in Scotland from 1999 to 2003, Ken was keenly interested in improving the lives of Scotland's children and recognised the importance of a European dimension in this process, helping government and the children's sector to learn from and with other countries.

He brought to these issues profound understanding and knowledge of the social and political policy context and processes - as one might expect from somebody whose early studies were undertaken at the University of Glasgow with a galaxy of future political leaders, such as Donald Dewar and John Smith, who became his lifelong friends.

Together with his wife Elizabeth, Ken also brought great style to everything he did. Meticulous detail and engaging ceremony, humour and stylish attire which, from red silk shirts to tartan trews, never failed to attract attention: these were the hall marks of Munro events, both public and private.

As a former Children in Scotland board member remarked this week: "Edinburgh without Ken will be a less colourful place" - and children will have lost a worthy champion.

Bronwen Cohen, chief executive, Children in Scotland.

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