Sad news: Former Glee Club host Ralph Bancroft has died

Last night, Ralph’s brother left a comment on our piece about former Glee Club pianist Liz Rorison’s death to say that her old friend and Glee Club host from the 90s had passed away on Saturday night.

Before we published this sad news, I wanted to make sure that his friends and colleagues in the party were all aware. Current Glee Club host Gareth Epps has written a tribute to him over on Liberator’s blog.

Based in Harrow for many years, Ralph was a Young Liberal and went to Sussex University before being employed in Parliament, in the heady days of there being 14 Liberal MPs.  He rose to work in the Whips’ Office during the 1977-8 Lib-Lab Pact.  He subsequently used his considerable political acumen to advise Liberals and Liberal Democrats in council administrations, and was particularly proud to become Head of Office of Andrew Wiseman’s administration in Harrow in the 1990s.  Ralph was also a champion on online engagement and of the cix online conferencing system that was an integral part of party activity at that time

Together with his good friend the late Liz Rorison, Ralph and his ever-present pipe were also for many years the linchpin of the Glee Club as it transformed from an informal gathering around a hotel piano to the unique event it is today.  He also appeared in many memorable sketches at the Liberal Revue.

In recent years Ralph had suffered from ill health and in particular severe visual impairment.  Friends and colleagues had asked: ‘How is Ralph?’.  The answer was that he was spending time listening to Radio 4 and keeping pace with current events.  Thanks to Liberator colleague John Bryant, Ralph had been able to join Liberator Collective members from time to time at social events and relished talking about politics with friends over a pint of ale. The most recent occasion was barely a fortnight ago.

I’m very sad to hear this news. For me, Ralph was my Glee Club host in the same way as Tom Baker was my Doctor. He was so funny and good at dealing with the Unruly. I also knew him from Cix, which was the early Lib Dem internet networking system back in the 1990s. He showed that it was possible to make strong arguments online and change people’s minds. I remember one particular occasion when I was having a hard time coming to terms with the murderers of Jamie Bulger being let out of prison. My child was about the same age as Jamie had been and I felt that it was too soon. He took the time to talk me through it and he changed my mind.

Last night, all I could think about was how chuffed he was when he got his first ever WAP enabled mobile phone. He loved posting to Cix from it.

We are losing too many of the good guys at the moment.

Please feel free to share your memories of Ralph in the comments.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Angie Harris 9th Mar '16 - 10:06am

    Ralph WAS the Glee Club! For so many years he conducted and cajoled all of us working behind the scenes (in whatever capacity) to make sure the last evening was a roaring success. When I was Chief Steward he made sure I was able to let quite a number of the hard working stewards (who had little money to pay for a ticket) come to the Revue – to ostensibly work. He was generous, funny and wise and I will never forget his innate kindness. A wonderful man who will be deeply missed.

  • Sandy Walkington 9th Mar '16 - 11:33am

    Ralph and I were colleagues in the Liberal Whips Office. We were both ‘chocolate soldiers’ funded by Rowntree before Short Money kicked in in 1979. This is a real shock.

  • Peter Burrows 10th Mar '16 - 6:51am

    Ralph & i were councillors together on Harrow Council -RIP Ralph #nice guy !

  • Simon Banks 15th Mar '16 - 9:19am

    Sad news, but he made good use of his life.

  • I have only just come across this. Ralph was a Harrow councillor, along with my brother,
    Michael, who passed away 2002. RIP

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