Neil Walker, executive director of disability
services at the Shaftesbury Society, died of a heart attack on
Saturday at the age of 53.
He joined the organisation in 1999 as director
of care and community services and became an executive director
overseeing education, health and care services nationally.
He was responsible for Shaftesbury’s five
colleges and schools for young people with learning difficulties
and profound physical disabilities, and for over 50 services
including supported living, day services and residential care.
Fran Beckett, the Shaftesbury Society’s chief
executive, said: “Neil was a friend and mentor to many, as well as
someone who brought a strong strategic approach to his work. His
enthusiasm was infectious and he will be sadly missed.”
Walker completed postgraduate social work
training at Glasgow University in 1971. He began his career as a
mental health social worker in Lincolnshire, Salford and Suffolk.
He also completed an MA in planning and an MBA at the University of
He was appointed as assistant director at
Bromley and after a short spell at Tower Hamlets and Kent became
director of social services for Barking and Dagenham.
Walker had a close association with the
Association of Directors of Social Services. He also worked closely
with Community Care on the Shaftesbury Society’s
sponsorship of Community Care Live.
He leaves a wife, Lynn, and two grown-up