Edward Murphy OBE

Submitted by root on Mon, 10/16/2017 - 12:12

Ed Murphy friend, supporter, volunteer and Chair of the Trustees from  around 1996 to his death in October 2016.

As can be seen from the obituary below much of Ed's life took place in meetings and offices but reviewing our Photographic Archive it can be seen that he took part in or attended numerous events at the Blackie, particularly in the days when his work load was less.

Ed Murphy at an Away Play Day in 1976Ed Murphy at an Away Play Day in 1976Ed Murphy with Performance Artist Jim Parker

Above Ed Murphy at an Away Play Day 1976 Below creating 'sweets' for Starkie's Stall 1977

 Ed Murphy rolling 'sweets' for Starkie's StallEd Murphy rolling 'sweets' for Starkie's Stall

Ed Murphy setting up the weaving in Down To Earth 1978Ed Murphy leadinga discussion at Down to earth

Below setting up and leading a discussion in Down to Earth 1978

Ed Murphy at Many Hands Make Art workRight Ed attending Many Hands Make Art  Work at the Walker Art Gallery in 1981. 

Below Chairing The Black-E Trustees - the second photograph is a meeting of the Trustees in 2014

Chairing the Black-E Trustees in 2014Chairing the Black-E Trustees in 2014

Bill Harpe's Tribute to Ed Murphy

If Edward Murphy's ancestors, including his paternal grandfather Patrick Murphy, had not had to flee for their lives - having fought in the up-rising against English rule, and then in the succeeding civil war as members of the Irish Republican Army against the established government of the Irish Free State - then an alternative Edward Murphy might have been born in Knocknagusel, County Kerry, instead of the Edward Murphy we celebrate today who was born in Liverpool. Edward, however, always remained extremely proud of his rebellious Irish ancestors (including his memory of revolutionary Sinn Fein songs). He also nurtured and valued his own rebellious instincts.

Edward was born in Speke, a working class area on the outskirts of Liverpool, the first child of Daniel Eamon Murphy (son of the escaping grandfather), a docks and woodyard worker, and his wife Marion (nee Savage), civil servant. After secondary education at St Edward's College, Liverpool (then a boys' grammar school run by the Catholic Congregation of Christian Brothers) Edward went on to read History at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He then made the choice to come back and give back - dedicating himself to the service of his City's (and Merseyside's) voluntary sector, managing in the youth service, the arts, housing, fund management, charity law and community empowerment.

Always active in Liverpool's regeneration Edward served as Chair of both Liverpool City Challenge and Kensington New Deal for Communities and played a leading role in the New Deal for the Unemployed and Employment Zone initiatives. An expert and teacher in charity governance Edward served scores of charities as a Trustee over forty years. From 1986-2001 Edward was the Chief Executive of Liverpool Council of Social Service, the umbrella body for voluntary organisations in the City, after which (together with Mandy Maloney) he founded and directed Merseyside Network for Change, a community empowerment charity with a commitment "to stand by the poor". He pursued this work for the rest of his life. Indeed, he was still actively pursuing this (and other) work, when he  was in hospital and receiving palliative care for cancer.

His administration and activism were steeped in practical wisdom. Within the voluntary sector, with trustees of charities often appointed for their expertise, Edward observed that "experts should be kept on tap and not on top". Of charity trustees themselves, he observed that they should be "the keepers of the vision". He would very rarely claim personal authorship of such wisdom, usually attributing the words to their original authors, often accompanied by a historical perspective.

Edward valued both informality and formality. He could be found each evening in his chosen watering hole for good advice, good company and good beer. He could also be found chairing the EU's £500m Pathways to Integration on Merseyside programme (which he did for a decade), as well as drafting the constitution for a small learning disabled drama group, or giving his personal support to a refugee in distress. He could also provide the most gripping of accounts of what life must really have been like in Ancient Rome.

Edward possessed neither a passport nor a driving license. Once, when struggling to confirm his identity at the entrance to a conference, he shuffled through his papers and brought out a picture of himself with the Queen, receiving his OBE for Services to Regeneration. (New Year Honours 2000) This was deemed proof of identity.

In the preparations for his funeral Edward chose his friend the Roman Catholic priest Father Nicholas Postlethwaite to lead the proceedings, whilst also instructing "Keep it simple, none of those usual funeral hymns and prayers. Tell everyone to wear colourful clothes". His chosen music (notwithstanding his enthusiasm for classical music and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) was by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton.

He organised for his family to conclude the evening of his funeral with a Chinese meal and a tour of The Black-E, Britain's first community arts project, with which he was closely involved from the 1970's and which he chaired for over a decade.

Bill Harpe Oct 6th 2017

The above Obituary was used as part of the leaflet produced for a Celebration of Ed's life organised jointly by The Merseyside Network For Change and the Black-E which took place on 7/10/2017.

Below is a poem celebrating Ed's approach to life.


It was an extraordinary meeting, that extraordinary day
It was on the Twelfth of Never, when we seemed to find a way,
To do the impossible and in spite of the weather,
Every single soul round the globe came together
Overcoming barriers of time and space
This was the EGM of the entire Human Race
When everyone in the world sat down without fear
To decide as a species where we go from here
Yes, all of us, too numerous to mention
We shut up just for once and paid close attention
To the Chair of the meeting when he walked in the hall
At the top of the hill in Tocky Town Hall
The meeting to end all meetings had to go to plan,
It needed someone to lead it,
A once-in-a-lifetime sort of man
So it was chaired by Edward Murphy
As EFC as you can be,
In his pocket, with his cheroots, sat his OBE.
Well he was radical and credible, nicest guy you ever met,
An educated man of the people, an all round clever git.
A paradox with a purpose, not one to admit defeat
A beacon of light in darkness, a scholar of the street
He didn't need a passport to pass through any border
Adjusting glasses, he cleared his throat, the meeting came to order.
Now, what happened at that meeting has never been explained
But thanks to Chairman Murphy, paradise was regained
By the time it ended, there was no further need for war
And the principle was declared: "WE STAND BY THE POOR".
He sorted out the buffet, so everyone got a share,
Re-administered the world so everything was fair,
Abolished rank and privilege, getting shot of greed,
Rebalanced the finances to each according to his need
Got rid of all the weapons, then - and here's the rub -
Under Any Other Business he said: "Let's all go the pub".
Nobody forgot the day of Edward's EGM
Or Ed himself, the likes of whom we'll NEVER see again.

Tom Calderbank
With Love and Respect Always





Thanks to all staff & volunteers at The Black-E and Merseyside
Network for Change, with special thanks to Lynda Roberts, Sandy  Priestley, Bill Harpe and Mandy Maloney

Thanks to all members of the event organising group, with
special thanks to Gill Moglione, Jimmy Cullen, Fr Nicholas
Postlethwaite and Richard Meegan

Production & Technical Teams: Margaret Noble, Danny Noble
and Rowan Dyer, Sound Engineer: IE Productions, FOH: Saffiyyah
Paul and Becky McCarthy

Catering: The Congolese Association of Merseyside, with special
thanks to Petronelle Moanda, The Brink Cafe CIC, Lynne & Mick
Lawler (Bar)

Compere: Roger Phillips

Speakers and performers are expected to include:-

Patricia Carson, Dave Clay, Company of Friends, Sue Eyo, John Flamson OBE, Bill Harpe, Wendy Harpe, George Howarth MP, Paulette Lappin, Nick Liu, Ewan Roberts & Friends, Liverpool Chinatown Tai Chi Association, Stevie Al-Hadi Smith, The Black-E Youngsters and Karen Wynne.

If you would like to a photographic record of the evening please click here.


Congolese Association of Merseyside, Councillors for Kensington &
Fairfield, Fazakerley and Riverside Wards, Gill Moglione, George
Howarth MP, Hilary Russell, L8 Law Centre (L8 Legacy Projects),
Mandy Maloney, Richard Meegan, Steve Pinnington - NADA
Acudetox, Wirral Change, and other anonymous donors
Printers: Rayross Print Factory


front page of the leaflet