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Sam Micklem

Sam Micklem, a splendid Liberal and Liberal Democrat colleague has died at his home in Eldwick, near Bradford, at the age of 79. Always known as "Sam," from a dislike of his given names of "Ambrose Martin," he was the third generation of a distinguished Liberal family. His grandfather, Nathaniel, was Liberal MP for Watford in 1906 and his father, also Nathaniel, was Principal of Mansfield College - the first nonconformist college in Oxford - and President of the Liberal Party, 1957-58. I recall his avuncular presence and gentle speeches at Liberal gatherings in the early 1970s.

Sam, attended Mill Hill School and, in common with both his father and grandfather, went to New College, Oxford. Then, after six years teaching in Nigeria and Lebanon, he attended Leeds University to gain further qualifications for teaching English, particularly to foreign students - at the time much less on the agenda than it is today. He had a passionate love of English literature and communicated that enthusiasm to his students as well as to his friends.

He was a keen advocate of Christians being involved in politics and he followed his own precepts by contesting the Shipley constituency at the 1970 general election. He was a Liberal Democrat member for Baildon on Bradford Metropolitan Council, 1997-2001 and later also contested the Craven ward.

Sam was always a loyal supporter of Liberalism. I knew him well when I was the party's Yorkshire secretary and I appreciated his gentle but firm awareness of Liberal values - plus his invariable wry humour when commenting on current political issues. His wise counsel on party problems was always appreciated, often accompanied by glasses of incomparable sherry!

In some ways Sam was too gentle for the rough and tumble of frontline politics and as, in the proper sense, an intellectual, he would probably have fared better as a politician in an earlier era. Nevertheless, he would tackle the hustings when the need arose, not least when nudged and even teased into action by his urbane and elegant wife, Claudette.

Latterly Sam had struggled with the aftermath of a severe stroke, compounded by his lifelong diabetes.