Matthew Caygill – an appreciation



It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Matthew Caygill has died. He was 60 years old. It happened suddenly and has taken many of us some time to digest.

Matthew was a founder member of Leeds Taking Soundings in 2007. He played a leading role in our events and activities: from chairing meetings to booking rooms; from his lively contributions to discussions to collecting donations; and from organising film shows to writing our leaflets and applications for funding… and much, much more. He was also deeply involved in the Leeds-based Ford Maguire Society which holds discussions on political history.

Matthew was an active trade unionist at Leeds Beckett University where he taught history and cultural studies with great imagination and energy. His lectures (for example, on the Vietnam and its effects on the counter-culture in the West) were particularly popular with students.

Matthew was also a fully committed socialist. In recent years he was involved in Left Unity. He was politically passionate but reflective, eager to learn and ready to argue, and warm and witty. He had a wonderful sense of humour, a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile.

Matthew was incredibly active, attending numerous academic conferences and often presenting papers.

He was working on a PhD on the cultural politics of the 1960s and had a wealth of knowledge about the subject. Over the years, he had amassed a vast library stored both at work and in his cluttered home. There were books everywhere.

He was also a ‘culture vulture’, a lover of opera, the cinema and the theatre and very knowledgeable about them. He travelled the length and breadth of Britain, from large cities to seaside resorts, from visiting art galleries to tucking in at chip shops.

We have lost a good friend but we did have the good fortune of knowing him.

Barry, Dave, Franco, James, Max and Zoe

Leeds Taking Soundings steering committee

Matthew’s funeral is on Friday 5 August , 2016, at 11.40am, Lawnswood cemetery, Otley Rd, Leeds, LS16 6AH. 

Matthew Caygill can be seen on film here, talking about his research on the Dialectics of Liberation conference of 1967. This link also includes a fine obituary to Matthew published in Socialist Worker.