Former Cardiff/Bournemouth/Bath/Birmingham Social Services Chief Dies
Ronald Liddiard died on 6th July 2014. Born in Cardiff, but descended from an old Wiltshire family from Aldbourne, near Swindon, he was very proud to be able to trace his direct ancestry in that area back to 1633.
He spent 35 years in local government, during which he changed from his original intended career of accountant to become a social worker in Cardiff and then District Welfare Officer in Bournemouth, later rising to Chief Administrative Officer. When Social Services were first created in 1971 he became Director of Social Services first for the City of Bath (1971 – 1974), and then Birmingham (1974 – 1985), where he was in charge of services for children, the elderly, and persons with physical or mental handicaps. In that post he directed over 8000 staff in well over 200 locations; the largest urban social services department in the UK, with multiple problems in all client groups, and a large and rapidly growing ethnic minority population.
From 1950 to 1952 he undertook National Service in the RAF. From 1968 to 1972 he held a commission in the RAF Voluntary Reserve as a Flying Officer.
Educated at Canton High School and the College of Advanced Technology, Cardiff,
he gained a degree-level diploma in municipal administration, to which he later added a professional social work qualification. He undertook two periods of advanced study at Birmingham University in 1971 and 1973.
He was selected for two study tours to India and Bangladesh in 1979 and 1980, sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality, observing the home conditions of several ethnic groups whose families were settling in Birmingham. He visited the Punjab, Gujarat, and several major cities in those countries, including Delhi, Calcutta, Dacca and the then Bombay.
Under his leadership Birmingham Social Services department gained an international reputation for innovations in the care of the elderly and handicapped, and hosted visitors from many countries to study their methods. He was invited to lecture several times at various universities in the USA, the highlights of which were at Harvard and UCLA, and also in Mexico and Canada. He was honoured in 1977 by the Governor of Kentucky and in 1985 by the City of Frankfurt-am-Main, Birmingham’s twin city.
He retired from local government service in 1985 and became a consultant in social administration and management. A complete change of direction followed. Mr. Liddiard had spent two years National Service in the RAF, during which he was posted to Paris, where he was a member of an international squadron standardising the flying training of instructors and student pilots of the four nations of the Western Union. This reinforced his life-long interest in aviation, and having himself qualified as a private pilot in 1970 and a flying instructor in 1977, he decided to pursue the possibility of a second career in professional flying. While still undertaking part-time consultancies, he studied at Bournemouth to complete the necessary ground examinations to become a commercial pilot, and then flight training at Oxford, attaining his Airline Transport Pilot’s licence in December, 1986. Ten years of commercial flying followed until 1997, when he retired as a Line Training Captain with a regional passenger and cargo turbo-prop aircraft operator.
He then returned to professional flight instruction, first as a Chief Flying Instructor at Coventry Airport and later at Wolverhampton (Halfpenny Green), continuing there until 2005, when he returned to Bournemouth to teach commercial pilots at Hurn Airport, where he had himself first qualified. He and his wife settled in Christchurch.
He leaves a widow, June, to whom he had been married for 57 years, two daughters, Angela, an education consultant, and Clare, an air traffic controller; and five grandchildren.