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UEL mourns death of Lord Rix: our first Chancellor and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities

The first Chancellor of the University of East London, Lord Rix, sadly passed away on 20 August 2016 at the age of 92. In addition to being a well known actor-manager, Lord Rix was a tireless campaigner for people with disabilities and served as UEL's Chancellor from 1997 to 2012.

In 2004, he established the RIX Centre, which was founded to explore and develop ways of using new technologies to transform and enrich the lives of people with learning disabilities.  

Through the RIX Centre, we continue to feel the impact of his passionate belief in providing people with disabilities the opportunity to thrive.

The Centre has enhanced the lives of thousands of people with learning disabilities and their loved ones through its pioneering and innovative multimedia technology and advocacy. None of this would have been achieved without the support and inspiration of Lord Rix.  

Lord Rix was born the son a Hull ship owner in Cottingham on 27 January 1924. He joined a touring theatre company as a trainee actor at the age of 18 and made his West End debut in Twelfth Night in 1943.

But his theatrical career was disrupted by the Second World War in which he saw service in the RAF and then in the mines as one of the ‘Bevin Boys’.

In 1947 he formed his own theatre company and was associated with the Whitehall Theatre from 1944 until 1969. As an actor-manager, he also became increasingly well known on TV.

In 1980 Lord Rix retired from acting and became the Secretary-General of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults (Mencap) and in 1987 became its Chairman. 

In 1977 he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was knighted in 1986 for his services to charity. In 1992 his tireless work was further recognised when he was created a life peer.

After nine years as a Vice Lord Lieutenant of London, he was installed as the first Chancellor of the University of East London on 16 July 1997 after becoming acquainted with UEL while working at the Stratford office of Mencap.

Lord Rix was a man whose footprints are indelibly impressed on UEL and he will be sorely missed by us all.