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Stuart Shearer Newton OBE (1934 -2021)

Stuart Shearer Newton OBE (1934 -2021)

Stuart Newton

Below is the obituary by his son Richard from the Hampshire Chronicle Thursday March 4 2021. 

On his retirement in 1985 to Dove Cottage, Northbrook, Stuart became a fine local historian.

His major contribution was to the History of Micheldever by Rev. Alfred Milner vicar of Micheldever, published in 1923, which ended in 1800. The Micheldever Archaeology and Local History Group decided that an appropriate way of marking the Millennium would be to re-issue Milner's History with additional text to bring it up-to-date.

He took on this task, aided by members of the Group. However, the Group disbanded, and it was decided to produce booklets about some of the noteworthy local events of the past two hundred years as a precursor to the complete history. They are:

The Swing Riots.

The Coming of the Railway

Crimean War to Great War

Micheldever Between the Wars.

Village life in the late 1900s

Obituary: Stuart Shearer Newton OBE

Hampshire Chronicle Thursday, March 4 2021

Stuart Shearer Newton spent much of his life in public service overseas, mostly in Africa, and after retirement, he was elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor for Winchester City Council, representing Micheldever and neighbouring villages.

He was born in 1934 in South Shields, on Tyneside, and vividly remembered the bombing raids of World War II. His two older brothers served in Kenya and Palestine, and their letters home widened his horizons. In 1956, he joined the Colonial Service and was posted to a Beau Geste fort in Wajir, in the desert of northern Kenya. His transportation was a camel, and his pet was a lion cub. The lion eventually became too much of a handful (and gave him a shoulder scar that lasted for life), and was sold to MGM, to feature in movies, and perhaps even as one of the famous roaring lions in the opening credits.

After Kenya, Stuart joined the Mines Department in Sierra Leone, supervising a diamond mine. On return to England, he qualified as a teacher, managed a cinema, and was a student at the London School of Film Technique, where he was a contemporary of the playwright, Arnold Wesker.

Stuart married Joan Alberg in 1964, and they had two sons, Richard, born in 1967, and Paul, born in 1970. After studying anthropology as a mature student at Durham University, Stuart joined The British Council in 1971. His first posting was to the Kingdom of Lesotho, where he struck up a friendship with King Moshoeshoe II, based on a shared interest in chess and movies. His next posting was to Mombasa, Kenya, followed by three years as regional director in Newcastle (where he was a native speaker of the language). While in Newcastle he was instrumental in setting up Friendship Force, an alliance with the city of Atlanta in the United States, and helped host a visit to the north-east by President Jimmy Carter.

In 1980, he was posted to Botswana, and in 1983 he was appointed British Cultural Attaché in South Korea (where, on summer evenings, he would sit on the flat roof of his residence and play chess with the Paraguayan Ambassador sitting on the roof of his, shouting the moves from one to the other. The house between was the residence of the head of the South Korean Secret Service, whose armed guards would gaze up quizzically). In 1985, he was made head of The British Council’s staff training in London and moved the family base from Durham to Micheldever.

His final posting was to Malawi, as British Council director from 1987-1994. It was a turbulent period in that country’s history, and Stuart’s proactive role in defending human rights occasionally put him in personal peril. A BBC Bookmark documentary, ‘The Poet, the President and the Travelling Players’, was pulled from broadcast at the last moment due to a death threat against Stuart. Despite the risks, he played a crucial role in securing the release of the poet Jack Mapanje, who had been held as a political prisoner for three years. In 1994, the dictatorial regime of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda gave way to multiparty democracy. Stuart was actively involved in ensuring a peaceful transition, and was subsequently awarded the OBE for services to Malawi.

He retired to Micheldever, but remained committed to public service, and was elected as a Liberal Democrat to Winchester City Council, where he served until 2002. After his wife’s death in 2011, he moved to Sutton Scotney, where he continued his lifelong passion for writing and reading poetry. Stuart died in hospital in Winchester on 24 February 2021. He is survived by his two sons and grandson, Louis.

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