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Paul Honigmann (YG 1951)
25 February 2023
Old Scholars will be saddened to hear the news of the death of Paul Honigmann (YG 1951) on the 12th February 2023. Paul was at Friends' from 1944 to 1951 and was a Governor of the school between 1999 and 2006.

The following testimony of Paul's life is from the booklet for his memorial meeting:

Paul was born in a Zoo, which may explain a lot. It was 1933, in Breslau (now Wroclaw), in the heart of Silesia. Because his father was the director of the Zoo, his early days were shared with turtles, tiger cubs and an increasingly jealous monkey, Moritz, who regarded himself as the true youngest child and Paul as an interloper.

Two years later, by the skin of their teeth, the family – Paul’s parents and his elder brothers Fred and Ernst – escaped to London. The family, buffeted by history and the exigencies of the war, moved around the country, to Dudley, to Welwyn Garden City, to Tiverton, to Glasgow, before ending up back in London. Paul was welcomed by Friends' School Saffron Walden. It is possible that he learned something there, but his stories of those days revolved chiefly around toothpaste fights after lights-out, and the strong friendships he made. He continued to make friends from far and wide throughout his life and valued them deeply.

Paul studied law at UCL and was articled at Waterhouse & Co., housed in a Dickensian sprawl of paper-strewn offices at 4 St Paul’s Churchyard. None more paper-strewn than his. As a young man he was a dedicated solo traveller, heading for Europe at every opportunity, seeing his German cousins and travelling by bus or hitch-hiking around North Africa. His knack for being where he probably should not have been led to run-ins with the French colonial authorities in Algeria, and impromptu camping either by the side of the road or in police cells – the latter as free bed-and-breakfast accommodation rather than as an inmate – or so we believe.

He was introduced to Margaret, a languages teacher, by a mutual Quaker friend, and managed to charm not only her but her mother and father. They were married at Jesus Lane Meeting House in Cambridge and settled in Beaconsfield, first in Holtspur and then in Middle Drive, a happy family home for many years for them and for David and Jo.

They made frequent trips to Eastbourne and Germany to see family, to Paul’s brothers in Ayr and Newcastle and all over the world. Jordans Meeting was an important part of their lives.

After Margaret’s death, Paul met Valerie on a Ramblers holiday. They married and lived for many happy years in Edmund Court, visited by friends and cherished by children and grandchildren, who benefitted from his skills from versifying to stilt-making. He very much enjoyed getting to know Valerie’s family and friends. They divided their time between Beaconsfield and their cottage in Arundel. Together they made regular trips to Valerie’s family in Newcastle as well as Europe by train, making the Gare du Nord almost a third home; and more recently spent weekends enjoying concerts, restaurants and antique shops in the Cotswolds and the South Downs.

Paul was a partner of Waterhouse & Co and then of the merged Field Fisher Waterhouse. Two significant clients were the General Medical Council and its Dental equivalent, and he formed a team of former CID investigators to strike fear into the hearts of medical practitioners tempted by malpractice or unprofessional behaviour. Many charities also turned to him for expertise. He retired as senior partner of the merged firm.

As a committed Quaker, he often used his legal skills to ensure the survival and flourishing of Meeting Houses, and to advise Friends charities. He spent many years as an active member of Jordans Meeting. He was a keen tennis player and gardener, an enthusiastic amateur actor and writer of plays, verse and at least one novel.

But above all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, father-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and friend. His kindness, warmth, wisdom and quick wit will be deeply missed by us all.
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