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Camden News - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 31 July 2008

Michael Buckley working at Parkhill Adventure Playground, Belsize Park, in 1968
Tributes to youth work ‘pioneer’

THE founder of one of the first adventure playgrounds in London died at the Marie Curie Hospice after a year-long battle with cancer, an inquest heard on Tuesday.
Former senior school inspector, Michael Buckley, 71, underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy after he was diagnosed with the disease in April 2007.
But during a third operation to drain fluid from his abdomen pathologist Freddy Patel said a “therapeutic mishap”, not the tumour itself, caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest.
He died in May at the cancer care hospice in Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, the court was told.
Mr Buckley worked as a teacher in Birmingham before moving to Gospel Oak to work for Camden Council’s social services, where he was promoted to head of play services.
He was responsible for setting up Parkhill Adventure Playground (now Three Acres) in Parkhill Road, Belsize Park, and Plot Ten Community Play Project in Chalton Street, Somers Town, in the 1960s.
His daughter Alison told St Pancras Coroner’s Court that her family, who live in Crouch Hill, knew his condition was deteriorating when he was taken to the hospice.
She said: “We knew that things weren’t looking very good and there wasn’t anything else that could’ve been done.”
Trainee specialist Dr Ian Colbin, had difficulty clearing a clot during the operation.
“I had difficulty passing the inner tube into the needle,” he said. “As things progressed it was clear there was some degree of haemorrhage.”
Hospice doctors decided not to consult family members on whether they would resuscitate Mr Buckley if his heart failed.
Mr Colbin told the court: “I think there are some quite serious long-term consequences. I don’t want them (family members) to feel like it’s their responsibility.”
Coroner Dr Andrew Reid ruled the cause of death was an “accidental adverse health care event in the context of palliative treatment for terminal malignant disease”.
Sandy Buckley, Mr Buckley’s son, praised the hospice after the hearing.
He said: “I don’t want them feeling guilty and feeling responsible. My father was a remarkable man and much loved and respected by his family, friends and the Camden community.”
Dave Martin, assistant director of leisure and community services in Camden during the 1990s described his former colleague as “a radical pioneer of community youth work”. Mr Martin said: “He saw the world from a teenager’s perspective but he was also able to persuade the great and the good – not just councillors – to support him. A lot of the radical life-changing work that has been done (in Camden) is because of the likes of Mike.”

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