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Adrian Sumption obituary

Daniel Sumption
·2-min read

My father, Adrian Sumption, who has died aged 76, worked in television broadcasting as a project engineer for much of his life, while devoting large chunks of his spare time to helping the young and people with disabilities in his local community.

He was born in Wellington, Somerset, to Quaker parents, Harold Sumption, who worked in advertising, and his wife, Ruth (nee Burrows), a teacher. After leaving Ackworth school near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, he moved to London, where he helped to form the blues band Dissatisfied, which supported artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and the Yardbirds in the 1960s. In 1965 he married Karin Lusby, whom he had met at school.

After studying physics at Brunel University he worked as head of engineering projects at Thames TV, where he was responsible for the introduction of electronic news gathering, the portable single camera and the building of ITN’s broadcast studios in Gray’s Inn Road, central London.

When Thames TV lost their franchise in the early 90s, the company was taken over by Pearson, and Adrian’s division became Pearson Television Broadcasting, with whom he stayed until retirement in 1999.

Outside work he was a charity volunteer in south-west London, spending 15 years as a leader of the Teddington Woodcraft Folk, and then becoming chair of the Richmond Youth Partnership. A champion of drugs outreach work and youth counselling, he fought successfully to save the local branch of the mental health charity Off the Record from council funding cuts.

His ability to help young people make their own decisions and put their views forward constructively was most memorably demonstrated at a meeting he chaired around 2003 on the proposed closure of Heatham House youth centre in Twickenham. When around 50 hot-headed youngsters arrived to shout abuse at local councillors, Adrian calmed the situation, ensuring that everyone had their say, and as a result the youth centre was saved.

He also set up Richmond’s Youth Cafe Bus youth centre, where he was always happy to offer non-judgmental advice and support. In 2005 he was appointed MBE.

For the last 20 years of his life Adrian was also a trustee of Companion Cycling, a charity enabling people with disabilities to ride specially adapted bicycles, with a companion, in Bushy Park near Teddington. Adrian transformed the charity from a small seasonal concern to one that now has dozens of volunteers, is open all year round, and organises more than 7,000 rides annually. A keen rambler and photographer, he loved the great outdoors.

He is survived by Karin, their children, Hannah and me, and grandchildren Rowan, Lola, Lily and Leon.