Obituary: Arthur Golding

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The Independent Online
Arthur Golding, peace activist, probation officer, born London 3 March 1910, died Sheffield 18 September 1992.

ARTHUR GOLDING was one of the unsung heroes of the peace movement in Britain.

A Londoner by birth, Golding became involved with the movement in the Thirties while working with an insurance company in the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a movement of ecumenical Christian pacifists. Heavily committed to the Hackney FoR group of the east London area council and the London Union of FoR, it was inevitable that he should join those who opposed the Second World War. He appeared before a conscientious objectors' tribunal and became a member of what was known as 'Human Guinea Pigs'. Pacifists in London under an ad hoc umbrella of an FoR committee involved themselves collecting clothing and bedding for disinfestation as well as disinfecting patients' homes, a procedure that demanded stamina and courage.

London was not the only city where this service took place. Sheffield had its own project and Golding decided in 1942 to join the Sorby Research Unit set up by Dr Kenneth Mellanby for the Medical Research Council, and based at Sheffield University. The unit's aim was to eradicate the scabies mite which was causing tremendous discomfort to many soldiers and civilians. At first Golding and his fellow pacifists were asked to sleep in the bedding and wear the clothes of well-known scabies sufferers. That was just the beginning: Golding and others undertook to have the disease continually for nine months, despite the suffering involved. With typical humour, they drew up a coat of arms for themselves with the motto 'Itch Dien'. Golding won the admiration of Mellanby, who said of him and his fellow pacifist volunteers: 'This was a remarkable effort and one for which the scientific community as a whole should be most grateful. I do not think that such an achievement as this will ever be seen again.'

Golding's family joined him in 1944 and they made Sheffield their home. After the war he joined the probation service, where he worked for 31 years as a senior probation officer and became known as the city's 'Mr Probation'. He helped to establish the Sheffield Family Service Unit in 1949 and acted as its honorary secretary. The unit was based originally in his home, the home which had been a refuge for a number of the conscientious objectors in the Sorby Research Unit.

Golding was also a pioneer in establishing Norman House at Upperthorpe, a home to assist men who were homeless on their discharge from prison. He was the first man to act as consort to a mayor when, in 1977-78, his wife Mrs Winifred Golding became Lord Mayor of Sheffield. They were popular first citizens.

Arthur Golding was a humble and sincere person, who spent all his active life helping others. He did not want publicity or even credit for his work - it was enough to see the projects in operation - and because of his work in the probation service he realised there were a large number of deprived individuals as well as families who needed practical support. In his last years he suffered physical discomfort, but he continued in his wheelchair to attend committees of the movements he had supported for so long.

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