We were saddened to hear of the death of David Browning, chair of Kirklees Environment Partnership (a precursor to EPIKS) between 2006 and 2014.

From going to night school while working in the shipyards in Blyth, to Ruskin College in Oxford, then working with Oxfam followed by Northern College in Barnsley and the Open College Federation, David’s working life followed many paths and touched many lives.  He was a passionate advocate for the environment and adult learning.

David could find a connection with anyone he spoke with and establish common ground, and used this to bring people together to make things happen through sharing knowledge, skills and experience.

Moving back to Huddersfield following retirement, David joined us at KEP and was soon encouraged to chair the organisation.  In October 2008, he worked with many others on a schools programme around climate change and environment involving Batley Girls High School, Birkenshaw First School and Fixby Junior school.  He brought in Paul Hudson, BBC Look North’s Climatologist and Weatherman and also brokered an internet dialogue with women from different continents at a time when internet use and video calls were a rarity. This fitted with David’s inclusive way of working with others: “the aims of the KEP climate change events were to work with and listen to children and young people on issues of climate change; take their ideas and approach seriously, since they are the people who will need to resolve climate change issues in the near future; celebrate the achievements of Kirklees schools aiming for Eco-Schools status; and encourage engagement with the social, scientific and organisational changes needed for a sustainable world.”  These words, written in 2008 remain just as relevant today.

David’s enthusiasm for adult learning and for encouraging others to grow food meant David helped bring people together in organisations like Growing Newsome.  He was also interested in and supported other ventures such as Stirley Farm, Edibles, Paddock Community Trust and Golcar food co-operative.  David organised action research involving local people to find out what people really liked to eat and wanted to learn to grow.  He enjoyed working with local schoolchildren and teachers and community organisations to support them in learning through doing.  I remember children at Rawthorpe Junior school’s enthusiasm for getting involved and understanding how to grow potatoes with David’s help and guidance (and building raised beds – his trademark).

David will be remembered as “the man who built raised beds”, but his legacy is in the skills and knowledge that he enabled so many people and communities to achieve.

Author: Ali Stopher