A tribute by Timothy Blake (Chair of ARELS 1998-2000)
'Richard Walker-Arnott was chief executive of ARELS, the larger of the two organisations which merged in 2004 to form English UK, from 1992-1999.
During his seven years in post, he was an active chief executive, visiting members in their schools and building up relationships with many of them. I got to know him well when I was Chair between 1998-2000 (he retired from ARELS about six months before the end of my term of office). His conviction that his role was to support and benefit the member schools meant that he talked things over with me almost on a daily basis - how did I feel members would feel about this; would there be much appetite for that. Some years earlier the association had successfully lobbied for exemption from VAT, but there was very little lobbying done on an ongoing basis. Richard and I set up a much more systematic schedule of meetings. Coming from a PR background he had many useful skills and we met a wide range of relevant people: ministers, MPs, officials, journalists. Although he did most of the work to set up the meetings, he always insisted that they were 'my' meetings, with him in attendance to guide and facilitate, but never to dominate.
In the very best meaning of the word, he was a true servant of the association. He was also great fun to work with, never pompous or formal. I liked and respected him a lot.'
Jane Merrick, also a past Chair of ARELS who worked closely with Richard, added 'He was a remarkable man of great intellect who really listened to and understood members' concerns.'