Andrew Arden QC records and reflects on the loss of the leading housing surveyor of our times.
This morning, April 13, a day before his 68th birthday, housing surveyor Pat Reddin died following a fall.
For those – few – housing practitioners not familiar with his work, Pat has been the “go to” surveyor for both tenants and social landlords since the early 1970s. Indeed, the founders of housing law at that time were not only Law Centre and legal aid lawyers but others, without whom our work would have been impossible to deliver, who put flesh on the bones of cases involving housing conditions, by whom I mean pre-eminently Pat Reddin and the independent environmental health adviser, David Ormandy. It felt like there wasn’t a disrepair claim which didn’t feature one or other of them.
As many in housing law will know, in 2011 Pat was diagnosed with a brain tumour which he courageously, vigorously and (for the most part!) with the best of humour fought throughout 2012, allowing him to return to work less than a year after surgery (and long before the doctors had predicted he would be able to): he had continued to recover, and to work, and was, as he always has been, much in demand as an expert witness, readily acceptable to social landlords and tenants alike as a joint expert and indeed in the courts.
It is too early to say what caused the fall or how far it was linked to the tumour, although his annual scans showed that the residue had not grown and that the operation was a considerable sucess. His sudden death has accordingly come as a complete shock to his family and friends.
Pat leaves behind his wife, Vincina Mellor, four daughters – Tania, Sarah, Jada and Francesca – and five grandchildren – Cassius, Ava, Tulah, Sheyo and Kosi – as well as a host of friends many of whom are active in housing and housing law and all of whom know how lucky we were to have had him in our lives and who will miss him dreadfully. Pat and the family were deeply grateful for the outpourings of concern and support during 2012, the most enormous morale boost through what Pat remarked in his client letter as he returned to work was a truly horrible year.
When I first wrote on his condition (July 6, 2012), I recorded that the tumour had been
“a dreadful shock to him and to his family – and to those close to him who hadn’t realised he had a brain at all (a joke he does not tire of making!)”.
This was also a line I had used to his youngest daughter – Frankie, my god-daughter (as Pat was my daughter’s god-father) – across his bed in the ICU the morning after an 11½ hour operation in early January 2012, when there were very real doubts both about his chances of recovery and about how far he was (or would be) capable of comprehension. I was quite clear in my own mind, though, that I saw in his eyes a flicker of recognition – of humour – at the line and it is one of the enduring joys of my life that as soon as he could communicate again, he confirmed that I had read him right: he had not left us but briefly.
That last thought struck me again today, when I found a draft will written way back when – from its contents, probably 20 years or so ago – and which contained this line.
“This is a time of celebration and adventure. I am going on another journey. I will return and I will always be available for you. Hold me in your thoughts for that is where I reside”.