Fred Edwards was born on April 9th 1931, the only child of Reginald and Jessie Edwards. Raised in Norris Green Council Estate in Liverpool, he was educated at St Edwards College. After spending 10 years with the Royal and merchant navies, he became a probation officer in Liverpool in 1960. Taking unpaid leave in this time he gained a post graduate diploma in Social Studies at Glasgow University.
Edwards played a significant role in Scottish social work in the 1970s. In 1974 he was appointed Head of Social of Social work in Grampian, before moving to the same role in the Strathclyde region two years later. Viewing his department as a potential instrument in social justice, he was scathing on matters such a Strathclyde Children’s’ Homes, characterising them as ‘an industrial process.’
During the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, Edwards authorised loans of £191,000 to unmarried miners. This was subsequently deemed to be illegal and Edwards was held personally accountable for the sum until the Government relented in the face of a public outcry.
In 1986, he was appointed visiting Professor of Social Policy at Glasgow University, and in 1992 was named a lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order. He retired in 1993, embarking on a ‘portfolio career’ by becoming a full time voluntary worker - focussing in the main on matters relating to the environment, social justice and religion. In 2002, along with his 2nd wife Mary, he established a water purification and female literacy project in Cambodia.
A devout Christian and active member of the Church of Scotland, he depicted his faith as one of ‘public orthodoxy, private heresy,’ noting that as he aged, his belief became more minimalist, yet more profound. After developing myeloma in 2005, he died three years later on October 18th 2008 at the age of 77.