Remembering Dai Powell OBE

The social enterprise community was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dai Powell OBE, who passed away earlier this month.

Dai was a true social enterprise pioneer and is probably best known for his time heading up HCT Group as chief executive, transforming it from a small community transport provider to a national social enterprise running bus routes and accessible transport services across the country. A proud Welshman and former coal miner, Dai joined HCT as a bus cleaner and worked his way up through the business, which grew more than a hundredfold over his 29 years there.

Dai helped to show how a social enterprise can deliver public services at scale without losing sight of the business’ mission to support the community. The revenue from HCT’s commercial routes was used to fund transport services for the elderly and those suffering from social isolation, as well as to provide training and work opportunities for the long-term unemployed and people at the margins of our society.

Dai was heavily involved in our work at Social Enterprise UK as a passionate advocate for the social enterprise movement. He played an active and important role on our board for six years and, up until his death, was actively involved in our governance. He was the Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee from 2009-2014 and also chaired the Community Transport Association. In 2006, he was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people.

Commenting on Dai’s huge contribution to our sector, our chief executive Peter Holbrook said:

“Dai was someone who was deeply invested in social enterprise, Social Enterprise UK and growing our movement into a global force. He exemplified the values of social enterprise throughout his long career in the sector. He was revered and will be remembered both as an icon and founding father of modern social enterprise. He will be celebrated, remembered and missed. He was a real friend to so many people and respected hugely by those he met. He was joyful, insightful, easy and witty company.”

Our thoughts are with Kate Markey, Dai’s partner, who we know will be suffering terribly in the wake of Dai’s sudden and premature death. We are forever grateful to Dai for the contribution and inspiration he gave to our movement over so many years.