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Obituary: Michael Hollingsworth MBE, 1936-2022

Posted on 24 March 2022

Michael Hollingsworth, who has died aged 85, was one of the driving forces behind the formation of Hyde Housing Association (now the Hyde Group) in 1967.

With the country’s major cities struggling to overcome the impact of World War II, demand for decent affordable housing was outstripping the capacity of the building industry, including local authorities, to supply homes.

The poorest and most vulnerable members of society were condemned to live in the worst housing. The BBC’s Cathy Come Home, first broadcast in November 1966, dramatically highlighted this social injustice.

Against this backdrop, Michael, along with his old friend Ted Watts and others, met at a Round Table meeting hosted by the Duke of Edinburgh, to encourage local people to make a difference in their communities. Inspired by this, the young men talked about what they could do tackle homelessness in their area. They continued this conversation in the Black Horse pub in Sidcup and decided to form a housing association.

Founding Hyde was Michael’s proudest professional achievement. It was for this, and services to housing, that he was awarded an MBE in 1991.

Michael was Hyde’s Chair for 29 years, before standing down and being appointed Honorary Life President. Hyde grew steadily during his time in charge, with many other housing associations asking to come under the Hyde banner.

Speaking at Hyde’s 50th anniversary in 2017, Michael and Ted said: “Throughout the decades, Hyde has remained true to the ideals to which we aspired when embarking on this journey in 1967: to help people excluded from the mainstream housing market, by providing them with decent, affordable homes and managing them properly.”

Michael continued to stay in touch with Hyde as it grew, attending the 50th anniversary celebrations and the Hyde staff conference in 2021. He always enjoyed speaking to Hyde staff to find out what was going on.

Michael celebrated his 85th birthday in some style in October 2021, with a party at Chislehurst Golf Club. Alongside his lifetime of work at solicitors Woolsey Morris and Kennedy, where he was senior partner for many years, and his huge commitment to the Sidcup Round Table, the Rotary Club and, more recently, the Tallow Chandlers’ Livery Company, Chislehurst Golf Club was a very significant part of Michael’s life. Having been both Captain and Chairman of the Board, he was made a life member. On the day he died, the club flew its flag at half-mast in his memory.

Most important of all to Michael was family. He would have celebrated 60 years of marriage to his beloved wife Marjorie in August this year. They were fantastic parents to Clare and Tim, and wonderful grandparents to their five grandsons.

Michael was taken seriously (and unexpectedly) ill on 4 March, while getting ready to go out for dinner in London. He was taken to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington, where he died peacefully in the early hours of 5 March 2022, surrounded by Marjorie and his children.