Don Langdown (1931-2020)

Don Langdown, a stalwart of both Lewisham (now South East London Humanist Group) and Bromley Humanists, has died after several years of illness. Don’s name was among the first of those present at the founding of the group in 1960. He was a cheerful supporter who had a ready smile and bright word, even if he didn’t always agree with you. Don was a sincere humanist: he would question your answers in case you were deafened by the echo in your chamber of self-righteousness!

He served as Lewisham’s treasurer from 1986 – 2003, then as chair 2003 – 2005. He was a very active participant every year when we had a stall in Mountsfield Park on Lewisham People’s Day in the 1980s and 90s.

He gave several talks between 1980 –2004: among their titles –A humanist looks at population & resources; The 9 lives of Annie Besant and Social housing. Don was also a director of Humanist Housing (Humanist Housing was set up when certain religious groups could refuse admission at their own homes to non-believers). For some years he served as a Trustee of the South Place Ethical Society at Conway Hall. 

Don had a distinguished career as a Civil & Construction Engineer; he was a chief engineer during the construction of the Thames Barrier. In retirement he was a regular volunteer at the British Humanist Association (now Humanists UK) in their Theobalds Road office.

He was generous both with his time and through financial assistance, especially during his later years as treasurer with the Bromley Group. At the time of the 2000 millennium celebrations, in partnership with Bromley Borough and Ravensbourne College, Don organised a major exhibition in co-operation with other members of the group. This was the Bromley Millennium Hall of Fame, featuring pictures and life stories of many famous men & women associated with Bromley during the preceding 1000 years. This took place at Bromley Central Library and the museum at Orpington and gave good publicity for humanism. But Don was markedly modest about his achievements.

Don was married to Margaret for 66 years – many years at their Orpington home and lovely garden – we offer our condolences to Margaret, his son Mark and family at this very sad time. 

By Denis Cobell