Tributes have been paid to a charity worker and “extraordinarily wise and good man” who has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ian Sparks OBE, of Frating Crescent in Woodford Green, died aged 70 at the weekend surrounded by his family.

Mr Sparks spent decades working for organisations such as Haven House Children's Hospice in High Road, Woodford Green, and Barnardo's in Tanners Lane, Barkingside. 

Mr Sparks stepped down as chairman after eight years at haven house last year.

The father-of-one was awarded an OBE for his services to children in 2001. 

He spent 16 years as chief executive of The Children's Society before retiring in 2002 to work with children in Eastern Europe and as a trustee at Haven House.

Haven House chief executive, Mike Palfreman, said: "He was an extraordinarily wise and good man who has taught me so much.

“I will be one of many who will miss him hugely.

"Ian did so much to improve the lives of children and families both nationally and internationally and in the latter years of his career, right here in Woodford Green, we were very lucky to have him on board.

"On behalf of everyone at Haven House, we would like to offer our condolences to his family."
Mr Sparks was chairman of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) between 1995 and 2001.

The current chairman Anthony Douglas said he will greatly missed.

"Ian was always approachable and friendly, no matter who you were. He believed in the intrinsic importance of everyone.

"He was a compassionate thoughtful man who worked tirelessly for voluntary organisations, in various roles. He dedicated his life to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families.

"Ian will be greatly missed by all who knew him. We have sent our condolences to his family. He will always have a place in our collective heart."