My uncle Nigel Charles, who has died aged 56 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was a health researcher, working variously for the RNIB, the civil service and Plymouth and Exeter universities. His writing on social care and mental health was published widely, including in the European Journal of Social Work.
Born in Harlow, Essex, to Maureen (nee Brenchley), a social work administrator, and John, who was in the merchant navy, Nigel went to Elmbridge school in Surrey and then took social studies at the University of Hull before completing an MSc in social research at the University of Surrey.
He lived in London for much of his life, although he had a brief spell in Australia as a furniture maker and spent his last decade in the village of South Brent in Devon, where he was active in the community, helping to set up a local care charity.
His interests ranged from philosophy to architecture, and most of his friends will attest that their tastes in music and art have been largely stolen from Nigel. He had an incredible ability to combine a dark sense of humour and robust cynicism with being the kindest friend.
When he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016 he began texting family and friends about his condition – a moving and sometimes amusing account that has now been published online. After years of suffering from depression, he often joked that cancer cured him. He became deeply stoical after his diagnosis, urging friends to be grateful for what they have, and to put aside perfectionist desires. He also had a talent for bringing people together. After getting his prognosis he held a Nexit party, raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Nine days before he died, Nigel married Mandy (nee Taylor), a fashion lecturer, in what was a happy closing chapter to his life. The lasting image I will have is of him with a huge smile – his fist held in the air in mock-socialist salute – as they married to the song Jerusalem.
He is survived by Mandy, by his mother, and by his sister, Alison.
Josiah Mortimer, London, September 2018