We were very sad to learn of the death of Nitin-Kumar Patel, who served on Redeye’s board of directors from 2015 to 2017. He died on 27th August 2018 at the age of 56, after a three-month illness.
Nitin began his working life as a youth and community worker, then a probation officer and social worker. His natural flair for balance, fairness and public service saw him progress in the staff association for probation officers. He became National Chair of the Association of Black Probation Officers in 2001, and then Vice Chair of the National Association of Probation Officers.
Alongside this he had a passion for the arts and creativity. He was a skilled welding engineer, and set up the business Industriana Limited, specialising in bespoke sculptural commissions and design. He was also an accomplished and enthusiastic photographer; his commissioned work centred on people in industrial settings, but he turned his camera skilfully to subjects as broad as travel, nature, portrait and architectural photography. Realising the power of the arts to improve people’s lives, he developed an interest in engaging communities through creativity.
Nitin brought these background skills to Redeye, and was the first member to be elected to the board soon after Redeye became a Community Benefit Society.
Nitin immediately identified ways that Redeye could improve its links to the photography community. He sat down with staff and mapped out our operations and reach. He got to work on our crucial “Guide for Members” - a document that explains the ways people can get involved, without the dryness of the official rules. He continually encouraged greater diversity in Redeye’s work.
Fellow board members quickly paid tribute to his good nature and public spirit. Susan Jones wrote: “From the first encounter, Nitin immediately came across to me as a man committed to his family and to playing his part in forging a good society, bringing his beliefs, values and perceptiveness into all he did. His particular and nuanced insight and gentle chiding on how to understand and approach matters of equality and diversity within the Board and the programme was invaluable.”
Dewi Lewis added: “he was always an enthusiastic supporter of Redeye, and as a board member he combined solid, real world experience of the industry with a thoughtful consideration of all the issues that we had to deal with.”
Redeye’s Director Paul Herrmann said: “Nitin quickly understood how Redeye worked, and kept encouraging us to improve in in all our activities, but always with warmth, kindness and generosity. He effortlessly cut through the jargon and complexity of governance to concentrate on the important things. He used to call me every couple of months and find out how things were going, alert for any difficulties and always checking on the happiness and wellbeing of the staff. He was someone who undoubtedly made the world a better place.”
He is survived by his wife Bhaggie and daughter Shakti. His family has set up an appeal for Macmillan Cancer Support in his memory.
Photographs of Nitin in his workshop courtesy of Bhaggie and Shakti Patel.