Tributes pour in for David Pollock (1942-2023), prolific humanist activist and leader

19 May, 2023

David Pollock, a renowned longtime member, activist, trustee, and former Chair of Humanists UK, has left a profound impact on the lives of many. Tributes have flooded in from individuals who knew and admired him, celebrating his remarkable contributions and character. Here are some heartfelt tributes to honour his memory:

Jane Wynne Willson, Humanists UK patron, reflects on her longstanding friendship with David Pollock:

‘David and I go back a long way but, strangely enough, our humanist activities didn’t overlap as much as they might have. Being nine years his senior, my first spell on the Education Council was when he was still busy with student politics. And, much later, when I was heavily involved with Humanists International, he had not yet started on his amazing international work.

‘He was an extraordinary man. When my husband William died, David described him as a polymath. But David himself one might call an ‘arch polymath’ – his annual letters at Christmas reflected this incredible energy and the breadth of his intellectual interest and fascination with the arts in their widest sense. His contribution to Humanism was massive.  He will be sadly missed.’

Paul Pettinger shares his first memories of David:

‘I am incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of the inspirational humanist, David Pollock. If you did not know him or of him but have an opinion on Humanists UK and especially its campaign activities, then I think you have a good glimpse into his character.

‘I first met David at my Humanists UK job interview in 2009. I was naturally anxious but when I met the interview panel and saw him with his goatee beard and longish hair, it immediately put me at ease. My first impression was that he looked like a 1960’s counter cultural radical and just the kind of person I wanted to work with. My instincts that day turned out to be entirely correct.

‘I am privileged to have known and been inspired by him.’

The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group recognised David Pollock’s instrumental role in its creation:

‘The original MPs and peers who established the parliamentary group, including Leo Abse, Fenner Brockway, Lord Raglan, and Bessie Braddock, did so at David Pollock’s instigation. He was a truly inspirational campaigning figure – kind and brilliant in equal measure.’

Humanists UK’s Dr Ruth Wareham paid tribute to David’s immense knowledge and generosity:

‘Very sad news indeed. David Pollock possessed a wealth of knowledge on humanism, policy, and the law, and he was always generous with his time and expertise. His insightful comments and suggestions greatly improved my work. He will be sorely missed.’

Anton Van Dyck, Director of Legal Affairs and Government Relations at fondly remembers David as a strong voice in the global humanist community:

‘Saying goodbye to one of the big voices within the global organised humanist community. David Pollock was always up for a good debate, sharp but never sour. We will miss you, David.’

Nazila Ghanea, Professor in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief said:

‘David Pollock was always such a gentle and respectful presence. His loss will be deeply felt.’

Mark Hill KC, barrister and academic specialising in law and religion paid tribute to David’s character:

‘May I add my condolences to all who mourn David’s passing. He was scrupulously courteous and articulate, expressing his views with integrity and engaging with grace those of differing opinions. His devoted service to humanism will be missed beyond measure.’

Dutch MEP, Sophie in ‘t Veld, said,

‘David was a kind and warm person, and an ardent promotor of humanism. It was a pleasure to work with him for many years. He will be sorely missed by many.’

Alan Tuffery said:

‘At the humanist All-Ireland Summer School of 2015, devoted to the topic of War and Peace, David gave a talk on the concept of the just war, memorable for its lucidity.

I had the task of providing reports of his talk for the Humanist Association of Ireland. He was kind and gracious in making the full text of his talk available to me. It was a pleasure to meet such a great humanist and to learn from him.’

Anthony Brierley said:

‘I am particularly saddened because I regard David as one of the successes of my life. That is because when I had founded the Oxford University Humanist Group in 1958, in his time at the University he was attracted to our meetings and made such a significant contribution to the movement ever since.  He was such a pleasant man to have around and his devotion to Humanism was complete.  If I played some part in putting him on that path in life I feel great pleasure in having done so.’


If you knew David or his work and would like to send a tribute in your name to Humanists UK and Humanist Ceremonies, please send these to

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright at or phone 020 3675 0959.

For more information about David Pollock’s life and legacy, please read his obituary.

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