David Grosz 1939 - 2018

David Grosz, who has died aged 79, was a founder member of Edinburgh Group, Lothian & Borders Area and the Scottish Council and Executive.

He was born in London on 2nd April 1939, shortly after his mother fled from Graz, Austria, and with the exception of one brother, all the rest of her family perished in the holocaust. He lived in Leicester in his childhood, and attended Nottingham University. He took up a teaching post at Mundella School for Boys, Leicester where he taught English and History.

For personal reasons, he decided to relocate to Deans Community High School, Livingston in 1978. Although a keen member of East Midlands Area of the Ramblers, when he moved to Scotland, there was no area or group structure in place. David started quietly fact finding, as to whether a group could be set up, and after more offers of help, Edinburgh Group was set up in 1981. Despite a long bus journey to attend meetings, he used his experience to become its first chairman.

Following this success, David became involved in Scottish Area, and was elected onto the National Executive (now the Board of Trustees) in 1983. It was around this time that he made some of his most important achievements. These were to transform the Scottish Area into a proper Scottish organisation for ramblers with a paid official, and the country was divided into Areas based on the Regional Councils at the time. This led to the appointment of Bill Forsyth as Scottish Officer and when Bill retired, the appointment of Dave Morris in 1989 to the enhanced position of Scottish Director. Both these appointments were to prove crucial in the development of Ramblers Scotland, and the legislation on access in the Land Reform Act of 2003.

Meanwhile at Area level, David became the first chairman of Lothian & Borders Area. As its first Area Secretary, I was aware that David was the only one of us who had much idea of how to run a Ramblers Area. He encouraged us not only to send delegates, but to speak to motions at Scottish and General Councils. Notable successes included the campaign to prevent the Ministry of Defence expanding their training area in the Pentlands. He was an active member of the Pentlands Hills Regional Park advisory committee, and the Green Belt Trust. In 1986, he encouraged the Area to host General Council for the first time in Scotland. A successful idea from David was the holding of Ramblers' election hustings in 3 locations in the Area. These were held early in 1999 in advance of the first Scottish elections . The 4 main parties were invited to speak, but the audience was only RA members, and the only item on the agenda was access provisions in any new Land Reform Act. A very effective way to get our message to the politicians.

David was elected national vice-chairman in 1995 but resigned after a few months, when the staff and members of the Board refused to back major reforms proposed by a new Chief Executive. This episode showed that David was willing to put the Association's interests ahead of his own. In 2008 he was elected a Vice President of the Association, the highest honour for a member.

David suffered from Parkinson's disease in later life, and lived in Peacock Care Home in Livingston for the last 8 years. He died on the night of 16th December, and donated his body to Parkinson's research. A memorial service was held on 17th January in the Home.


Arthur Homan-Elsy - January 2019