Special day for Michael Atkinson OBE

Former colonial officer Michael Atkinson has celebrated his 100th birthday in Chichester.

Celebrating the 100th birthday of former colonial officer Michael Atkinson
Celebrating the 100th birthday of former colonial officer Michael Atkinson

Michael, who received an OBE in 1955 for his work as an administrative officer in Nigeria, is a resident at Marriott House and Lodge.

Marie Forrester, acting general manager, said: “The day was all about Michael and celebrating this special achievement with him.”

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Born in Southampton to William and Elise Atkinson on June 15, 1917, Michael is an only child. He was educated at Brighton College and Worcester College, Oxford, where he read history.

Michael Atkinson with staff at Marriott House and Lodge Care Home in Chichester

He and his wife Margaret had two children, Katharine, known as Kate, in 1952 and Richard in 1957.

Michael’s career spanned three areas, with the first 20 years being in the colonial service. He entered the colonial administration as a cadet and from 1939 to 1959, served in western Nigeria, before independence was granted in 1960.

He was assistant district officer, district officer and senior district officer in Abeokuta, Benin and Warri provinces. He was appointed permanent secretary to the ministry of home affairs in 1955 and occupied that post until retirement, apart from six month as permanent secretary to the ministry of education.

When he returned to the UK, Michael continued his interest in education but before he could do administration work, he had to earn a Certificate in Education. He studied at Bristol University and was obliged to teach for five years before working in administration for school examinations. He became deputy secretary to the South West Regional Examinations Board for the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE).

After 12 years in Bristol, Michael moved to Northern Ireland, where he helped to establish the CSE examination board in Belfast and became its secretary.

He retired in 1982 and moved to Winchester, then Marriott House. Margaret died in 2010.

Michael’s autobiography, An African Life: Tales of a Colonial Officer, an account of the work of the Nigerian Administrative Service from the 1930s to the transfer of power, was published in hardback in 1992 by Radcliffe Press.

He wrote other informal publications, too, including Anecdotes about colonial life in Nigeria collected by Michael C. Atkinson, which is held in Bodleian Library.

Michael has five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His birthday was celebrated with a party for family and friends in the garden of Marriott House and Lodge.