Randal Kinkead (1929-2014)
Our friend of over 40 years, the actor, teacher and activist Randal Kinkead was born in July 1929 in Lisburn, near County Armagh on the River Lagan now part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. He had one brother; and went to boarding school at Radley, which he disliked intensely. He spoke of childhood as largely ‘unhappy and lonely’. (His mother seemed to have been bi polar; the family broke up when he was young). More enjoyably, he went later to Trinity College Dublin (1947-51), where he studied languages, became a prominent member of the Trinity College Players and gained an MA.
Randal spent much of the fifties and sixties moving between acting in Repertory (reportedly at times with Harold Pinter) in the Perth Players and doing a little film television (which he said included some “romantic leads”) whilst also supply teaching and waiting on tables. He met a number of people including Edward Fitzgerald, who introduced him into the London arts gay scene which included Angus Wilson (1913 – 1991), one of the “famous homosexuals” at Bletchley, and Michael Schofield (author of Sociological Aspects of Homosexuality and The Sexual Behaviour of Young People). From this he developed an enthusiasm for further study and took a B.Sc Sociology at Goldsmith’s College. Although he was unhappy with the course, it equipped him with a degree that led to a long and successful life as a teacher, first at South East London College in Lewisham, (SELTEC) from 1966 onwards and then to the Paddington College (now City of Westminster College) in 1981 where he was a Principal Lecturer and a Deputy Head of Department for many years.
At Paddington, Randal overviewed the provision of liberal and general studies courses to students in a wide variety of vocational programs. He was a strong believer in the role of Liberal Education in helping to broaden students’ horizons and was a leader in the now defunct Association of Liberal Education. During his time at COWC, he set up Medical Records & Receptionist courses that expanded quickly. These courses enabled many local women to get retrained and back into the workforce. As an ex-colleague has said:
“Mainly unemployed women who between them had dealt with every social problem you could name from domestic violence through prostitution to chronic lack of self-confidence due to being at home for years and bringing up children in difficult circumstances, they were charmed by Randal who they saw as a real gentleman. He showed respect for them in a way which they had probably rarely experienced before. His caring and gentle manner and genuine interest in them helped to build their own self-esteem, which was half the battle in getting them ready for thinking about getting back into work. A lovely man.”
Randal worked against privilege and elites, was passionate about a democratic art and liberal education and saw the teacher’s role as an enabler. During his career, he was loved and respected for his warmth, compassion and great humanity.
In 1970, he became one of the founding members of the London GLF (Gay Liberation Front) and developed a new set of friends and activism through this. He was also a founding member of the Gay Left Collective which produced the journal Gay Left. Always a little cautious of being publicly gay, he nevertheless regarded this work as one of the most significant turning points of his life.
An enterprising cook, a keen golf player, a theatre enthusiast and a card player, he was always congenial and sophisticated company.
Randal met his life long partner Sotiris (Mario) Demetriou in 1977. Together they lived in Finsbury Park and Hackney before moving to Epping in 1987. In 2004, they moved to Syria where they lived for four years, teaching at the University of Damascus, until change in the political situation meant a return to England. He spoke of this time in his life with great fondness.
He was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012 and died on January 29th 2014 of a brain hemorrhage. He leaves behind his partner Sotiris (Mario) Demetriou, his nephew Brian Kinkead and his niece, Claire.
February 5th, 2014 ; updated 14th, 18th February 2014
Gregg Blachford and Ken Plummer
Below is a photo of the young Randal which we think comes from one of his early films.