Highgate Society president pays tribute to ex-treasurer and golf lover Mike Read

Mike Read, who died this month aged 79, was a very active member of a number of Highgate organisations and well known in the village.

He had lived in Highgate for some 40 years and brought up his family there.

In his working life he was at the cutting edge of changes in the shipping industry with the move from cranes lifting in cargo to ships, to containerisation.

Mike was the finance director of Overseas Containers in the late 80s. Subsequently he was the first finance director of the Medicines Control Agency (now the MHRA), which supervises the testing of new medicines prior to use and monitors them once in the marketplace.

He epitomised community- mindedness through the major contribution he made to Highgate life in many different capacities.


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For many years and on several separate occasions he served as treasurer of the Highgate Society with skill and determination.

He must be one of the few treasurers whose annual reports were eagerly awaited as they demonstrated that it is possible to make a balance sheet both understandable and entertaining, and he delivered financial news with his dry sense of humour, wit and charm.

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He particularly made sure that the hard-earned society reserves were used to the benefit of the organisation and of Highgate.

But Mike was not just a money man. He willingly volunteered for the variety of jobs that putting on the annual Highgate Fair demanded and was a doughty campaigner.

Few could forget how single-handedly he initiated and masterminded a determined fight against graffiti, which he abhorred.

Not only was he seen scrubbing and cleaning but he exhorted others to do the same, arguing that, if graffiti was cleaned off immediately, the perpetrators would give up. The cleanliness of Highgate today is witness to his achievements.

There was a more cultural side to Mike as well. For many years he loved painting and sculpture and ran the Highgate Society Life Group, demonstrating not only artistic ability but good organisational skills and diplomacy.

He particularly enjoyed painting the female models, but it was noticed he couldn’t quite come to terms with painting male nudes and preferred instead to play golf.

Many people knew Mike through his interest in sports or bridge. In his younger days he was a squash player, playing at Hampstead Cricket Club’s courts, but in later life he was an active player at Hendon Golf Club.

He was also a very good bridge player and enjoyed competing at Crouch End bridge club.

The very many attending his funeral at Marylebone Crematorium on Friday, drawn from different groups of people in north London, was a testament to his widespread popularity.

As his children said: “Dad was a very caring father who always had time for his children. He was a kind man who put others before himself. Mentor, role model, keen golfer, bridge player, artist and active in the community. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.”

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