Keith Neal Obituary

Keith Neal, my dear friend, passed away at the age of 84 after dedicating 23 years of his life to teaching biology at Manchester Grammar School (MGS). Under his leadership, the subject transformed from an elite esoteric A-level course to one of the most sought-after subjects at GCSE level.

Keith was an ardent environmentalist who inspired his students with his extensive knowledge and exciting field trips. He also had a passion for internationalism, which was evident when he took his students on trips to India in 1988 and 1993 and to China in the late 1990s.

His love of Africa saw him travel there 26 times, with 15 visits to Sierra Leone between 2002 and 2012 to deliver courses on the moral foundations of democracy following the brutal civil war. Keith was also an ambassador for SolarAid, and in 2018, he visited Kenya to promote solar lamps that replaced polluting kerosene lanterns.

Keith also established a link between MGS and Busoga College in Uganda, where he supported the Busoga Trust by donating money for wells and textbooks. He visited Busoga three times between 1992 and 1999, and Mancunians donated 86 computers to the college.

Born in Cirencester to Ernest Neal, a world authority on badgers, and Betty Thomson, a science graduate, Keith moved with his family to Somerset at the age of eight, where his father taught biology at Taunton School, which was also Keith’s high school. He was an enthusiastic cross-country runner and enjoyed summer scout camps.

Keith’s parents’ scientific and Christian influence had a significant impact on his life, and he remained an active member of his church, serving as a church warden and maintaining a daily practice of prayer, quiet reflection, and Bible reading. He and I were both involved with the global Initiatives of Change interfaith movement.

Keith studied natural sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he met Ruth Candy. They married in 1965, and Keith went on to teach biology at Harrow County School for 15 years before joining MGS in 1976 until his retirement in 1999.

Following his retirement, Keith was committed to saving wildlife and the environment, which saw him begin clearing litter from the streets near his home in Altrincham. After the Covid lockdown in 2020, he made the clearing his daily routine, covering a three-mile circuit of rural lanes around Wythenshawe and near Manchester airport. His goal was to have completed 1,000 circuits, amounting to 3,000 miles, before his 85th birthday. In 2022, he collected 1,400kg of litter, filling 284 large bin bags and reducing rubbish in the area by an estimated 25%. Keith even counted the number of cigarette butts, with the total for 2022 being 11,250.

Keith is survived by his wife Ruth, their three children Peter, Margaret, and Rob, four grandchildren, and his two younger brothers, David and Andrew.


  • jamielane

    Jamie Lane is a 31-year-old blogger and traveler who loves to share his educational experiences with others. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been traveling the world ever since. Jamie is always looking for new and interesting ways to learn, and he loves to share her findings with others.

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