Marc Willers QC, remembers one of the UK’s foremost authorities on Romani Studies and campaigner for Gypsy rights.
It was with great sadness that I learnt that Dr Donald Kenrick had recently passed away. I first met Donald over twenty years ago, whilst he was acting as an unqualified planning consultant for a Romani Gypsy family that was trying to obtain planning permission for their caravan site in Kent, in the face of local opposition. I worked with Donald on a number of other similar cases and soon came to appreciate that his knowledge of the history of the Romani people was unique and that his commitment to the preservation of their language and their traditional way of life was exceptional.
Donald wrote extensively about Romani Gypsies and his best known books include: Moving On: The Gypsies and Travellers of Britain (1998); Gypsies: From the Ganges to the Thames (2004); The Romani World: A historical dictionary of the Gypsies (UH Press, 2004); Gypsies under the Swastika (2009). But Donald was not just a renowned author, he was also a polyglot, able to translate from over sixty languages, and speak about thirty of them, mostly fluently. Using that exceptional skill, Donald helped preserve and promote the Romani language, by translating numerous publications and acting as the official interpreter at many international meetings.
Donald will be remembered by all those who knew him for his keen intellect, his mischievous wit, his generosity of spirit and his commitment to equality. He was a scholar and a gentleman in every sense of the word and he will live long in the memories of all those who knew him.
You can hear Dr Donald Kenrick speaking about the fate of Roma in the Holocaust here