Tribute to Paul Karfoot Berry

The Society is very grateful to Mr Keith Heron who has given permission for his photograph of Paul to be used on our website, and also for providing some details of Paul’s life which are included here and also in the longer more detailed obituary which will be published in the next version of the Society’s Transactions.

Paul Karfoot Berry, who, over the past 45 years has had a major role in the running of the Manchester Statistical Society, including 21 years as Secretary, died on 4 September 2021, aged 78.

Paul was born in Birmingham in 1943 and was educated at school on the Wirral and then at St Peter’s College, Oxford, where he read Mathematics, graduating in 1964.

He joined the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS), Manchester after graduation, and trained to be an actuary, qualifying as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in 1973. He stayed with the CIS throughout his career and became chief underwriter for the life insurance side of the business. He retired in 2001.

In the 1970s the Manchester Statistical Society met at the offices of the CIS, where several actuaries were members of the Society. Owing to the ill-health of Hazel Bernstein, the Society’s Secretary, Paul took on the role of Acting Secretary in 1977 and was formally Secretary from the 1978-79 session of the Society until 1998-1999, a remarkable 21-year period. His retirement as Secretary was marked by a dinner and musical soirée. He continued as a member of the Society’s Council, and in 2000-01 was a Vice-President. Paul then served as President for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 sessions. For several years he edited the Society’s Transactions; his role was formally recognised by his appointment as Editor in 2003-04, continuing as such to 2007-08. As a former President he continued as an active member of Council up to his death.

Paul’s contribution to the Society over such a long period was immense. He had the skill of making people feel at ease, and his attention to detail and excellent organisational skills served the Society in an exceptional manner. 

Music was very much at the forefront of Paul’s life. It was a subject he was very knowledgeable about and he was a regular at concerts in Manchester and elsewhere. He was a greatly valued supporter of many organisations, including the Hallé Concerts Society, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Manchester Mid-day Concerts Society, Opera North, the Buxton International Festival, and the Havergal Brian Society.

Paul had many other interests, including cricket (he was a life member of Lancashire County Cricket Club), the theatre and arthouse cinema. A rather different passion was heritage railways: Paul was a member of and volunteer at the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, where he would often spend a summer holiday. 

After a short illness, Paul died in hospital in Manchester on 4 September 2021.

Paul was cheerful and charming; gentlemanly and generous. We are fortunate that he was able to devote so much time to the Statistical Society, becoming a valued friend to many members and making such an extensive contribution to the Society’s activities.

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