Obituary: Bill Woof OBE
Bill Woof, a leading figure in housing since the 1960s died in April 2010 after a short illness.
Bill was President of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) in 1980/81 and along with others he was instrumental in the Institute achieving Charter status from the Privy Council in 1984. He had a long and distinguished career in housing and was a keen member and supporter of CIH.
Bill began work at Newcastle City Council and quickly moved on to become Housing Manager at Hetton Urban District Council at the age of 21. A spell at Glenrothes Development Corporation followed before he moved to Peterlee Development Corporation. Bill was Housing Manager at Billingham Urban District Council in his thirties and when the Chief Executive moved on he was appointed Acting Chief Executive prior to the creation of the Teesside Borough in the late 1960s. He was then Director of Housing at Rotherham before returning to his native north east to be Director of Housing at Gateshead. Then he moved on to the Department for the Environment – now CLG - where he was the Professional Adviser to the Secretary of State.
Alan Kilburn, OBE FCIH, who was CIH President in 1982/83, said: "I first met Bill over 50 years ago when in his mid twenties he was appointed Deputy Chief Housing Officer at Peterlee Development Corporation, where I then was and I was impressed with his drive and personality.
"He also had a great sense of humour and I remember him writing a letter to all dog owners in Billingham urging them to look after his canine friends better – signed Woof Woof.
"When he was advising government, he always found the involvement with the Rt. Hon Michael Heseltine in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots in Liverpool in 1981 particularly challenging and noteworthy."
Alan continued: "His worth was recognised by his peers and a number of us Past Presidents have talked in the last few days of the contribution Bill made. Those of us who worked with him found his commitment, enthusiasm and energy stimulating. It has been said that "He was a fine man, whose wit and bonhomie will be missed by all who had the good fortune to have known him".
Maggie Punyer, Social Housing Development Director at Ocean Media Group and former CIH staff member during Bill Woof’s presidency, said: "Bill really was ahead of his time. He had a real passion for delivering high quality housing services. He believed that tenants had a vital role to play in shaping their communities and as the first housing professional to be brought into what was then the Department of the Environment he was determined to ensure Government policy reflected the needs of residents and housing providers alike. Also he was never timid about challenging politicians and career civil servants if he felt that they were taking policy in the wrong direction.
"As CIH President he was determined to get around the all regions and regularly spoke on the importance of the profession and challenged them to think outside the box to find solutions to housing challenges – especially homelessness.
Maggie concluded: "He had a great sense of humour, was approachable and always had time for young professionals encouraging them to qualify through the CIH."