George William Alfred Shiells 1928-2007

Brookmans Park resident George Shiells passed away on Thursday February 15, aged 78 after a short illness. He leaves wife, Lyn, four children, Susan, Graeme, Manda, Philippa and twelve grandchildren. Mr Shiells was well-known throughout the area and will be remembered for his outstanding contributions to the community.

George Shiells was born in East St Pancras, London on April 12, 1928. He won a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital (The Bluecoat School) where he developed a life-long love of music and sport, particularly rugby, cricket, squash and golf.

He met his wife, Lyn in 1949 at a Halloween dance she had organised and the couple were married in 1952. They lived in Brookmans Park for more than forty years.

Following national service in the Marines, he began his career as an articled clerk, becoming a practicing accountant in 1948 and joining John Dale Ltd as an accountant in 1951. After gaining further experience as a management consultant he joined the Enfield-based family firm of Reeves & Sons, a well known name for art and craft materials. This was the company’s first non-family senior appointment. Upon promotion to Group Managing Director, he transformed the company from a UK based operation to an international operation.

In 1971 George Shiells became an early pioneer of free newspapers by starting his own business to publish the Enfield Advertiser. He played a significant part in the development and success of this new industry, holding senior posts on all the major bodies governing the industry including a period as Chairman of the Association of Free Newspapers. He grew the business significantly, launching new editions before selling the business to a division of United Newspapers in 1985, remaining as Chairman until 1989. He continued to act as a consultant to United Newspapers until his retirement in 1993.

Although he enjoyed a very successful business career, it was his considerable involvement with the local community that George Shiells will be remembered for most. He firmly believed in putting something back into the community. During his career he worked closely with many local organisations having been a committee member of Trent Park Preservation Committee, president of Enfield Rotary Club, chairman of governors at Middlesex University, foundation governor at Enfield Grammar School and vice chairman of Enfield College of Technology.

He was passionate about the success of the business community in Enfield and also served as a committee member of Enfield Enterprise Agency, as president of the Enfield District Manufacturers Association and secretary of the Enfield Chamber of Trade. He took great pride in his involvement as a director and trustee in the creation of MoDA, the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.

Throughout his retirement, George Shiells continued his involvement with local organisations, none more so than Chancellor’s School in Brookmans Park. His long association with the school began in 1964 when his eldest daughter was in the first intake of pupils. He subsequently became the first parent Chairman of the PTA, the first parent observer to the Governing Body and the first ex-parent Governor. In 1979/80 he led a campaign to save the school from closure.

In 1981, he had the idea to start Chancellors Community Newsletter, a professionally-produced newsletter distributed free to around 6000 homes. He continued to support the school, appearing in PTA productions and assisting with the organisation of numerous events.

George Shiells was a man who loved life. Ever the congenial host, he appreciated excellent food and wine although he would admit that his own best culinary skills amounted to toast and marmalade, kippers and heating beans. His broad musical tastes ranged from the Rolling Stones to Gilbert and Sullivan and he had a love of theatre, performing too, whenever the opportunity arose.

He relaxed by reading, completing crosswords and simply watching the birds bathing in his garden. He also enjoyed spending time at his house in France. As a sportsman he played golf at Brookmans Park Golf Club.

George Shiells leaves us with many lasting memories and legacies of his life and work. An astute businessman, a popular employer, a devoted family man, sportsman, entertainer, organiser and fearless campaigner.