David Mitchell: Tributes for ‘champion of elderly’ and ‘caring’ activist ‘without axe to grind’

David Mitchell, 89, helped set up LGBT+ charity Open Doors London. Picture: Age UK Camden

David Mitchell, 89, helped set up LGBT+ charity Open Doors London. Picture: Age UK Camden - Credit: Archant

Tributes are being paid to a Hampstead charity worker who was a “caring” activist “without an axe to grind”.

David Mitchell, 89, was a music teacher and printmaker before becoming a trustee for Age UK Camden and a “champion for the elderly”.

He was a “dying breeed as a gay intellectual in Hampstead” and held an “extraordinary zest for life”, said Corinna Hyman who knew David for 15 years through both of their charity work.

Corinna noted David’s “wit, charm and self-effacement” and said he was “committed to changing the world for the better”.

“He was just so caring,” Corinna said.

“He was always asking people how they were and remembering details about their lives and making sure people were ok.

“You looked at him and you thought ‘I want to be like that when I’m 89’.

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“He was so warm, interested, open, curious and willing to give that time and space you needed to form a relationship and friendship.”

Married to his husband and partner of 60 years, David Hass, the late campaigner, who passed away on April 4, helped establish LGBT+ charity Opening Doors London (ODL), which was first a men’s support group at Henderson Court.

David’s efforts in the third sector saw him selected by the Charity Staff Foundation as national trustee of the year in 2016, and in 2017 he scooped the same honour for Age UK.

Chair of its Camden branch Mary Burd said David’s “self-deprecating way” left him “bemused” at these awards, and that she would “terribly miss” her “wonderful” friend’s “warmth, humour, wisdom and kindness”.

She added: “David always had a passionate determination to see that what he believed were the ultimate goals of the charity to provide the very best for older people whoever they were, were achieved in the fairest and most effective way.”

Jeffrey Weeks, ODL chair of the trustees, said David was an “early and enthusiastic supporter” of the LGBT+ charity for whom he was a board member, passing on “wise and committed support”.

“After his retirement from the board he remained a warm friend,” Jeffrey said.

“David is a great loss and will be very much missed.”