Obituary - Ted Unsworth

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Monday 25th November 2013

Ted Unsworth died on the 16th November in Papworth Hospital after planned, but high risk, surgery for a complicated heart condition. He died, surrounded by his wonderful family and supported by the loving thoughts of very many friends and colleagues.

Ted came into social services work after a short career in the police. His commitment to interdisciplinary work stayed with him and a retired area commander of police in Cambridgeshire recounts how eyebrows were raised when he and Ted attended child protection meetings together and "sang from the same hymn sheet".

Many friendships were forged in the early happy, and later more difficult, years in Cambridgeshire where Ted became director and had to deal with the consequences of the high profile death of Ricky Neave. Typically his priority was to support his staff before moving on to find other outlets for his proven management skills.

He became CEO at Turning Point and enjoyed his frequent contacts with its most famous patron, Princess Diana. Moving seamlessly into the world of management consultancy, Ted worked with an old friend, Mike Talbot (ex DSS LB Havering) in Starfish which was successively gobbled up by bigger players, ending up as a leading consultant with Tribal.

Ted had many important assignments including a long term project in Cardiff which led to independent work on the development of a model for modern mental health services in Wales. A colleague has noted that this "was not an easy task for an Englishman." But Ted's total professionalism combined with his wit and humour, ensured a successful outcome. A valued member of the Mental Health Act Commission, he was in demand on Tribunals until earlier this year.

Many directors will know of Ted's work as chairman of the Associates Branch of ADSS and his sensitive leadership as we dealt with the implications of the creation of children's and adult services departments. As people moved into various shades of retirement, Ted and I established a very informal group which he christened `Muster. This quickly became, not surprisingly, a popular dining club which meets at RSJ, a delightful French restaurant near Waterloo.

When the two of us coincided in London we had a couple of favourite watering holes where we would meet for a gossipy lunch and he was always known to the staff as `Mr Ted. Many `Muster members have sent me messages following Ted's death and the following selection are typical of the respect and affection that we all have for this `fine man as one described him.

"He put the 'gentle' into gentleman and 'human' into human being".
"Supported others and always thoughtful and generous".
"Interested in everyone else, their lives and escapades rather than talking about himself".
"Got on with everyone. I never saw him 'lose it' ".
"A sincere and loyal friend with great charm".
" Always there for those in trouble, giving support and wise counsel"
"Larger than life but never dominated".
"Endeared himself to all who met him".
"I'm proud to be one of his chums"
A peaceful end surrounded by loved ones is a gentle way to say farewell

Ted and his wife Wyn recently celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary and, before going into hospital in September, he bought her a beautiful eternity ring. His family was the foundation and focus of his full and happy life which merits our appreciation and our celebration.

Hilary Simon