Keith Dewalt Death, Obituary – My good friend Keith Neal, who passed away at the age of 84, was a biology teacher at Manchester grammar school (MGS) for 23 years. During his tenure there, he transformed the subject from an exclusive and obscure A-level into one of the most popular topics offered at the GCSE level. He was the chairman of the department and an avid environmentalist. As a teacher, he inspired his students with his expertise and by taking them on exciting field excursions.
He was a globalist who led students on pioneering trips to China in the late 1990s and to India in 1988 and 1993. In those years, he took students to India. He made 26 trips to that continent. In the years following a bloody civil war, he went to Sierra Leone a total of 15 times throughout the period between 2002 and 2012 in order to assist in the delivery of training on the ethical underpinnings of democracy. He served in the capacity of ambassador for the nonprofit organization SolarAid.
Because of this, in 2018, he went to Kenya to advocate the use of solar lamps as an alternative to the use of polluting kerosene lanterns. Keith created a connection between MGS and Busoga college in Uganda, contributing money to the Busoga Trust and providing financial support for the construction of wells and textbooks. The first time he went to Busoga was in 1992, and he went back there again in 1995 and 1999. The Busoga institution received 86 computers as a donation from Mancunians.
Keith was the son of the biologist Ernest Neal, who was considered a world authority on badgers, and Betty (née Thomson), who also graduated with a degree in science. Keith was born in Cirencester. The family relocated from the Cotswolds to Somerset when Keith was just eight years old. Keith received his education at the Taunton school, where his father was a biology teacher. His favorite activities were summer scout camps and running cross-country.
The scientific method and the Christian faith were instilled in him by his parents, and his grandpa on his father’s side was a Baptist pastor. Keith was a church warden and made sure to pray, have some quiet time to ponder, and read his Bible every day. Both he and I were active participants in the worldwide interfaith movement known as Initiatives of Change.
At Trinity Hall in Cambridge, Keith received his education in the natural sciences. While he was there, he struck up a friendship with Ruth Candy, who would later become his wife. After 15 years of teaching biology at Harrow County School, he began his career as a biology teacher at MGS in 1976.