Dudley Savill obituary

My father, Dudley Savill, who has died aged 85, worked for much of his life in the field of social housing in London, with a particular interest in promoting tenants’ rights and participation.

He was Notting Hill Housing Trust’s first tenant welfare officer (1966-69), later becoming a housing and tenants’ rights consultant at the National Consumer Council (NCC, 1976-79) and then the London housing manager for the Carr-Gomm Society (1982-87), ending his career as a participation officer at the housing support and advocacy organisation Hestia, trying to ensure that tenants had a greater say in the management of their homes.

Born in Belvedere, Kent, to Violet Bacon and her husband Alexander Savill, a ministry of works architect, Dudley was educated as a boarder at Harrow school, with financial assistance from a wealthy aunt. There he developed an interest in boxing, which he followed up during national service in the army, where his courage in the ring helped him to counteract the bullying he received for being a public school boy. Later he boxed for a decade at the Belsize club in London.

After four years working first as a salesman and then as a sales manager for a building supplies company in West Drayton, Middlesex (1958-62), Dudley realised he needed a change in direction. Joining the international service department of the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UNAIS), he worked until 1964 as fieldwork organiser and coordinator in London for its “freedom from hunger campaign” in Greece.

He then turned his attention to tackling the poverty and dire housing conditions in his own back yard of North Kensington, which at the time had the worst overcrowding in Britain. He initially sought change through political activism, culminating in standing at the 1966 general election as the Liberal party candidate for Paddington South.

Although he was not elected, he did at least meet his first wife, the actor turned scriptwriter Jill Hyem, during the campaign. They married that year, and I was born in 1967. Jill then became the primary breadwinner when Dudley left his job at Notting Hill Housing Trust to study at the LSE from 1969 to 1971 for a diploma in social work, after which he joined the tenant-led Association of London Housing Estates, working as its general secretary, going on later to the NCC and Carr-Gomm.

After a divorce in 1980, the following year Dudley married Eleftheria Mikrouli, who coincidentally hailed from the town of Filiates, where much of his work with UNAIS had taken place.

In 2008, a year after his retirement from Hestia, he was made MBE for services to the voluntary sector.

Dudley maintained his passion for boxing in his later years, including as a member of the Amateur Boxing Association’s executive council (1996-2004) and as general secretary of the Schools Amateur Boxing Association (1994-2004).

He is survived by Eleftheria, by me, and by his grandchildren, Jaden and Gaia.