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Tributes pour in for former President Ewart Parkinson who has died

17 March 2015

Ewart Parkinson OBE

Ewart was a planners' planner, hugely respected over the years amongst his colleague professionals. Principled, committed and visionary Ewart never lost his belief in the power of good planning to change the lives of people for the better. 

Ewart 2Although born in Leicester and starting out his working life as an engineer, it was in Wales as a planner that Ewart made his mark, especially during his time as City Planning Officer in Cardiff and then as the Director of Environment and Planning at South Glamorgan County Council. He oversaw enormous changes in Cardiff that set the foundation for this City to be the thriving, dynamic and popular place it is now. Ewart always retained a deep and enduring love for Cardiff, his adopted City.

In his later working life he had a very productive relationship with WS ATKINS and through this became a strong advocate for planning in China, Russia and many other parts of the world. An internationalist at heart he loved working and sharing ideas with others. 

He was also a great supporter and mentor for young people setting up so many on their career paths and creating  lifetime friendships as result. As a colleague said "Ewart was a mentor before the word was invented."

In his retirement Ewart carried on being as indefatigable as ever. He put a huge effort into voluntary organisations and was a strong and determined campaigner for the environment and planning, always looking to how life could be better for future generations. For so many causes he was always there with his knowledge, his wise judgement and encouragement.

His contributions to planning and voluntary work have received formal recognition including a justly deserved lifetime achievement award from the RTPI in 2004 and then most recently an OBE which meant so much to him, his wonderful wife Pat and his family. 

But beyond these contributions it was Ewart the person that was so special. He was a delightful person: humane, optimistic, inspiring and always utterly and genuinely charming.

We shall really miss him.    Sue Essex

Past President Cath Ranson writes:

Ewart was such an inspiration - one of our 'greats' in Welsh planning, with tremendous achievements to his credit, an impressive international vision, a strategic thinker, public sector leader and shaper of place and, at the same time, so family and community focused. 

Ewart who was RTPI President the year that I first came into planning, maintained strong links with the Planning Schools in Cardiff and Bristol and was always ready and willing to support and encourage all those with enthusiasm for Planning. In Cardiff Bay, in the Kondittori I've had many an opportunity to reflect on Ewart's achievements in restoring the Norwegian Church as an Arts Centre Cardiff Bay.

Many years later, as Chair of RTPI Cymru, it was an honour to be present when Ewart received the RTPI Lifetime Achievement Award in the former Glamorgan County Council Council Chamber.  It was a privilege to stumble humbly in his footsteps, as the next Wales based RTPI President, nearly forty years later and to receive kind words of support from Ewart.

Professor Tony Crook CBE FRTPI; RTPI Trustee Board writes:

Ewart led a team of us to China in 1990 when we ran a three week seminar to introduce planners from right across PRC to the policies and practices of planning in the UK. We were based in Zhuhai, but we travelled extensively across Quandong Province. I remember Ewart as a man of great principle, someone who believed in the power of planning to make peoples' lives better and who was passionate about making international links to promote dialogue and understanding. This was at a time when discussions about the handover of Hong Kong were beginning and shortly after the Tiananmen Square 'incident'. That seminar was the first in a whole series of seminars and culminated in a tripartite seminar held in Deng Xiaoping's compound in Shenzhen in 1993 involving the RTPI, the HKIP and CAUPD. Ewart's vision in promoting this understanding was a key basis for that collaboration. I was fortunate to work with him and to benefit for his vision his humanity and his quiet but authoritative leadership.

Professor Tony Crook CBE FRTPI; Member RTPI Trustee Board

Extracts from Ewart's lifetime achievement award report in 2004:

Ewart Parkinson FRTPI was honoured with the RTPI's lifetime achievement award for his prolific and award-winning career. Ewart's contribution to planning saw him break new ground in relations with China and the former Soviet Union. As a county planner he was able to take a cross-disciplinary and strategic approach to regeneration, particularly in Wales, where his presence is strongly felt to this day.

Ewart Parkinson is a planner and engineer of international repute. He has led many planning study tours globally, including trips to Africa, Asia, China and the former Soviet Union. He was central to the RTPI planning and delivering study tours all over the world. His international work was recognised when he was made an honorary life member of the International Federation for Housing and Planning, a worldwide network of professionals representing the broad field of housing and planning.

Combined with his academic and professional careers, Ewart has given much of his time to the RTPI including being chairman of the South Wales branch, an active member of the council and committees and president of the RTPI in 1975-76. His inauguration address set out clearly the fundamental principles that have underpinned his planning career: "What I intend in this coming year is to explore the relationships between people and their needs, the political process that articulates those needs and the planners who serve both the people and the political process."

Throughout his life Ewart has generously given of his time to a whole host of causes and groups. He has made a contribution to Wales through his membership of the Sports Council for Wales, chairmanship of the South Glamorgan Council of Voluntary Service, as vice-president of the Wales Council for the Disabled and as founder and chairman of the Wales Sports Centre for the Disabled Trust.