My friend and President and the Founder of Keele World Affairs, Owen Powell, MBE, died on 18th February after complications following a recurrence of pneumonia.
Owen will be greatly missed as he was a longstanding friend to many of us at Keele and in the wider Staffordshire community. Since its founding by Owen in 1980, the World Affairs group has grown from a membership of less than 20 to a forum with over 600 members most of whom regularly attend its Thursday evening meetings during the university semesters. Past speakers at Keele World Affairs include Lord Carlile, Baroness Jay, Lord Digby Jones, Sir Trevor McDonald, Frank Field, Bruce Kent, Moazzam Begg, Baroness Shirley Williams, plus many ambassadors, both of UK and other countries, including Unal Cevikoz, Turkey’s Ambassador to UK (2011), and numerous professors from the UK’s leading universities, among which are Rosemary Hollis and Paul Rogers.
For the last 30 years, Owen’s Keele World Affairs has examined a wide range of politics/ world politics themes covering UK political, social, and economic issues, developments in Europe, Asia, North America and elsewhere, and global issues such as the environment, security, and the impact of technology. He was very honest with himself and with others. He was always encouraging, supportive and caring. Owen’s passion and enthusiasm for world politics was unrivalled, and unquestionably the key factor in the growth and popularity of the group over years.
Owen’s Keele World Affairs has been a great institution for Keele University and for the region of North Staffordshire. Owen’s ethos of education and learning being for everyone is to be commended as he was a great believer in social class not being a hurdle to achievement.
Owen was not a member of Keele staff, but he was an honorary graduate of the University, and a very well-known and highly respected figure by many across the university and in the country. There were many occasions when I met colleagues in other universities, in London, Cambridge or even in Edinburgh, the first thing they asked me about Keele was “how is Owen doing and how is his amazing World Affairs series?” Owen was probably the truest friend Keele University has ever had in its history. Owen enriched our lives with his always bright smile, hearty laughter, quick wit and sensitive jokes, and left us with so many delightful memories.
Before everything else Owen was a caring friend – a wise, warm and generous friend for many of us who know him in Keele. When I first arrived Keele, almost twenty years ago as a new lecturer, Owen and his wife Ethel were the first people that I was introduced to here in Keele, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better welcoming than their warm and generous friendship. My very first lecture in Keele was the talk which I gave to the World Affairs group, even before I met any of my students. After that Owen and Ethel were always there, at every important points of my life in Keele: they were the first to congratulate me when I got married, and first to congratulate me when my daughters were born. I would struggle to name two nicer people and my thoughts are with Owen’s family at this difficult time, to have lost such a wonderful and unique gentleman, who will be missed by many of his friends in Keele, in North Staffordshire and beyond. It was an honour to have known Owen and Ethel. Their fond memories will be with me forever.
19 February 2015