Sir Michael Lickiss obituary
My father, Sir Michael Lickiss, who has died aged 86, was a chartered accountant who held a number of public positions, including as the first chair of the South West of England Regional Development Agency and as chair of the British Tourist Authority.
Born in Guernsey to Elaine (nee Le Feuvre), a librarian, and her husband, Frank, a chemist at Boots, he moved with his parents in 1940 to Bournemouth, shortly before the Germans occupied Guernsey during the second world war.
He attended Bournemouth grammar school and then the London School of Economics, which would become one of the great loves of his life. Forty years after studying there, he became an LSE governor, as well as its chair of finance and, later, its chair of international strategy.
Following national service in the army from 1959 to 1962 he worked as a chartered accountant in Bournemouth and in 1968 became a partner in Thornton Baker, rising to be an executive partner in 1975 and managing partner in 1985, just before the firm changed its name to Grant Thornton International.
In 1980 he took a leading role in the formation of the Association of Accounting Technicians, becoming its first president. This, and his continued work at Grant Thornton, led to his knighthood in 1993 for services to accountancy.
At different stages of his life Michael was involved with all of the major political parties, and had contemplated becoming a Conservative MP in his early 40s. But the closest he got to political office was to become chair of the South West Regional Development Agency under John Prescott in Tony Blair’s government from 1998 to 2002.
In that role he was tasked with developing a sustainable economic strategy for the region. As a result he became convinced of the undervalued importance of tourism to the UK economy, and this view underpinned his service as chair of the British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain) from 2003 until 2005.
Later he was a director of the Further Education Funding Council for England, chair of the Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) and governor of both LSE and Plymouth universities. He was also involved with smaller organisations in the south-west of England, where he lived, such as Somerset College of Arts and Technology and the Somerset Rural Youth Project.
He would often talk about retirement, but only ever in jest, continuing to volunteer for local organisations and taking on various new roles, including as chair of Theatre Royal Plymouth, as a trustee of the Jurassic Coast Trust and treasurer of his local health centre charity group until shortly before he died.
He is survived by his second wife, Anne (nee Raynes), my mother, whom he married in 1987, and me; by Adrian, Neil, Rosanne and Tanya, the children of his first marriage, to Anita (nee Richards), which ended in divorce in 1979; and 10 grandchildren.