[The Guardian by Clare Smith] My father, Ian Sparks, who has died aged 70 from pancreatic cancer, spent a lifetime working nationally and internationally in the children's voluntary sector.
Born in Liverpool, he grew up in the tight social network of the Brethren assemblies, where he met his future wife, Eunice. After school, he persevered for 11 years at the Midland Bank, but when he and Eunice married in 1967, he followed his heart into social work. He worked for the local authority in Kirby before moving to Edinburgh to work for Barnardo's.
In 1977, Ian and Eunice moved to London where, in 1981, he joined the Children's Society as social work director. In 1986, he became chief executive, a job he held for 16 years. His greatest pride was the groundbreaking and successful campaign for the provision of safe houses for teenage runaways, at a time when there were better statistics on runaway dogs than on children running away from home.
He also became involved in the International Anglican Family Network, organising meetings to discuss family violence. Representatives from 17 African countries attended the one in Kenya (2003): Ian led some sessions and wrote the report. The next one was in South Korea (2007), and the one in New Zealand (2010) involved Anglicans from various parts of Oceania; again Ian wrote the reports. Subsequently he carried out development and mentoring work with EveryChild in western Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Moldova, promoting adoption and fostering services and family support.
The Obituary in full can be found here