David Roberts: Norwich champion of Third World causes

PUBLISHED: 13:20 08 June 2012

Civic award winners at City Hall, Norwich 
David Roberts
picture by Adrian Judd
for EDP/EN

Civic award winners at City Hall, Norwich David Roberts picture by Adrian Judd for EDP/EN

copyright Archant 2009 01603 772434

A campaigner against Third World poverty, David Roberts, who has died aged 82, won a Civic Award in 2009 from the Lord Mayor of Norwich for services to the community.

A stalwart member of United Nations Association, he had moved to Norwich in 1968 and soon became an active force in working on Third World issues.

David Nöel Roberts was born on January 4, 1930 in Arundel, Sussex.

He helped to form the Norwich World Poverty Action Group, which was a founding group of the World Development Movement.

As the first secretary to the Third World Centre in 1972, now Norfolk Education and Action for Development, he served for 25 years and was trustee for 21 years.

He developed networks with like-minded groups locally and helped to found the Development Education Association, which involved about 30 other centres across the country.

He introduced Tearcraft and Traidcraft fairly-traded goods to Norwich, and persuaded others to become voluntary sales representatives.

Representing the Third World Centre, he was co-opted to the Norwich Branch of the United Nations Association in 1974, and held senior posts including chairman and secretary.

One task which he particularly enjoyed was programme secretary and finding speakers for the monthly LunchBox meetings. He could always be relied on to find a well-informed speaker.

His knowledge of the United Nations was encyclopaedic and he was vice-chairman of UNA eastern region and also regional secretary from 2002 to 2009.

As regional representative on the Board of the World Development Movement for five years, he organised lobbies of Parliament for increased overseas aid and also at G8 Summits.

Under his leadership, the city’s Christian Aid Week donations rose from £550 in 1969 to about £45,000 a year as he raised the profile of the good cause.

As a representative of the United Reformed Church on the executive of Norwich Council of Churches for 30 years, he also helped to lay foundations for the Norwich Inter-Faith Link. When it was formed in 2001, he held office until 2009.

Among the many tributes, Lady Enid Ralphs, who was a founder member of the Norwich UNA branch, said: “He won our love and respect. He was always faithful to any cause to which he put his hand.”

Married to Connie for almost 50 years, he leaves a son, Mark, and daughter, Clare.

A funeral has taken place.

Michael Pollitt

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