Mitchell, Brian

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Mitchell, Brian

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14 February 1953 - 21 December 2019


Brian was born in Chapel Allerton, Leeds in 1953, the same year his parents bought his house in Allerton Grange Gardens, and he lived there all his life.
Born prematurely, he suffered all his life with poor vision and coordination which affected his education at St Matthews primary school and Allerton Grange comprehensive school. His ambition was to work in health care and the family was proud of his achievement in securing a place to train as a nurse. But his dyspraxia prevented him from qualifying, which was a great disappointment to him. Despite this setback, he went on have a 35 year career as a postal worker in the Central Leeds sorting office. He often joked that he was the only Guardian reading member of the sorting office team.
Brian retired at 55 and found a new freedom in this stage of his life. He had a full daily and weekly routine which involved a regular neighbourhood walking and running route (which more recently included litter picking), reading books and newspapers, writing his journal and keeping up with the weekly soaps, a pleasure he shared every afternoon with Vera at number 14. He had a great interest in the wider world. One of the new joys he discovered in retirement was travelling abroad. He would join international guided package travel programmes to explore many of the places he read about - Alaska, Barcelona, Canada, Turkey, Jordan, Sri Lanka, India, Scandinavia, Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam and of course his favourites South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. He particularly enjoyed waterfalls, contorted rock formations and long views over mountains and lakes. But before Brian had ever travelled abroad, he had already developed a deep interest in Southern African politics, particularly in South Africa and Zimbabwe. We therefore weren't surprised that he was determined to be there in person to witness the first post-apartheid election in 1993 and he travelled to Cape Town and Johannesburg to stand in line with black postal workers as they queued up to vote for the first time. He came back with many stories of the conversations he had had during this memorable trip. Throughout his life Brian kept a journal of newspaper items relating to the freedom struggles in Zimbabwe and South Africa which he assiduously typed up every day. This amazing archive will be donated to a suitable University institution in Southern Africa as he always wished.
Brian’s interest and knowledge gained from the wide scope of his reading was not just about Southern Africa.


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