Tributes to much-loved Mansfield solicitor who died after Covid battle

Mansfield residents are paying tribute to their ‘people’s champion’ who sadly passed away after a battle with coronavirus.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 12:30 pm

Well-known Mansfield solicitor Danny Phillips has died at the age of 76 and his family, who describe him as an ‘incredibly generous man’, say he will be hugely missed by all who knew him.

Danny was one of the original ‘Brocket Babies’ born at Brocket Hall, after the destruction of the City of London’s maternity wing during World War Two.

Educated at Oxford, he left behind a lucrative career in London to move to Nottinghamshire to help out with the miners strikes in the 1980s. He slept on floors and worked for free to defend working class men, setting up law centres in Mansfield, Ollerton and Shirebrook.

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Danny pictured with his wife Maggie

His wife Maggie said: “We met at the community centre where I worked, and straight away he stood out as an honourable man – he was a real rarity.

"He left everything behind to come to the heart of the miners’ strikes as he wanted to help.

“He lived as simply as possible, giving everything to help them fight for their rights – he was a people’s champion who treated everyone the same, whatever their background.

“He was a very popular man – we would get stopped in the street constantly by well-wishers.”

Danny was a real family man, pictured here with his son Reece, daughter-in-law Jo, grandsons Josh and Fin, wife Maggie and daughter Lindsey.

Maggie said Danny was actually the official owner of the QE2 ocean liner, albeit for just 24 hours.

“He was a trainee solicitor in London and the firm he was at helped organise the finance for the QE2,” she said.

"The cheque had to be taken to Southampon, so they sent the young trainee solicitor to go and sign for ownership of the ship on behalf of the finance company.

"Danny was therefore the signatory and, for 24 hours, officially the very first owner of the QE2."

Where it all began - Phillips solicitors had humble beginnings from Danny's home on Lindley Street, before moving to its current premises on Wood Street.

Local business owner Jono Edwards paid tribute to Danny with a Facebook post.

He said: "I’m shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of the legend that is Danny Phillips.

“Danny and his beautiful wife Maggie have been close friends for many years.

“I first met Danny in 1992 when he became our company solicitor, and remained so until he retired a few years ago.

Danny's knowledge of wine was 'encyclopaedic' according to those who knew him.

“Danny, as many people of Mansfield will know, was a genuinely good person, a ‘peoples champion’, he worked endlessly, often with no charge, for the people who needed him the most, especially during the miners strikes.

“Danny was like my ‘clever uncle’- there wasn’t much that he didn’t know, and he often gave me great personal and business advice which I will always treasure.

“Danny, my friend – I will miss you, I will miss your intelligence, warmth, friendship, compassion, and your wine!

“We will look after Maggie and ensure she remains just as amazing and beautiful as ever.

“The world, and especially Mansfield is a poorer place without you my friend – sleep tight.”

Philips solicitors was originally set up in a small room at Danny’s Lindley Street home, before moving to the Wood Street premises occupied by the solicitors firm today.

Danny represented his university on University Challenge.

Julie Manero remembers Danny from his duty solicitor days.

She said: “I remember him from the old courts about 30 years ago and also saw him quite often in town.

“Yes, his political views were different to mine, but I had the utmost respect for him for the way he diplomatically stood up for what he believed in and he was a very distinctive, smart gentleman.

“All my thoughts are with all that knew him personally and his family.”

Ann Roper met him through his wife, and paid tribute to him: “I worked with Maggie as a youth worker and, through her, got to meet Danny.

"He was always so welcoming whenever we went to their home, such a lovely man.

"Danny was a proper working man's solicitor, sending my love to Maggie and family.”

Danny was a keen sommelier, so the couple eventually decided to combine his knowledge of wine with their love of good food, in creating No. 4 Wood Street restaurant adjacent to their solicitor premises.

His daughter Lindsey speaks fondly of her ‘eccentric’ father and his encyclopaedic knowledge of wines, and how this translated into their new business.

She said: “He loved different wines, but even when buying for the restaurant he would always want to support small business, so refused to source wines from large companies, instead opting to import them from small French cooperatives.

"It was just another case of him wanting to support the underdog.”

Many speak about the Phillips’ dinner parties, where Danny entertained his friends with his ‘eccentric’ jokes and stories.

"His jokes and stories were legendary” continued his daughter Lindsey.

"He could tell you every book he had ever read, had so many stories from his work over the years, and would keep people enthralled.

"His jokes were often a little too intelligent though and there would always be a pause while you thought it through and worked out the punchline.

"He was a very funny, incredibly generous man who will be hugely missed.”

Danny leaves behind his proud wife Maggie and daughter Lindsey, his son Reece, daughter-in-law Jo, and grandchildren Josh and Fin, who say he leaves a huge hole in their lives.

Speaking of his battle with coronavirus, wife Maggie says she gets frustrated that people ‘don’t take it seriously’ and paid tribute to the NHS.

She said: “It frustrates me – people say it doesn’t exist or just don't take it seriously.

"I had it myself and believe me, I knew I had it, it was horrible.

"What those poor staff are going through in the hospitals is awful – every member of staff was incredible, they are all working so hard.”

Mr Phillips’ funeral took place on Monday, February 1 with just close family in attendance.

The family hope to celebrate his life during the summer, once restrictions are lifted.

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Danny pictured with his younger brother Ray.
No.4 Wood Street featured in the Michelin Guide, and was a place for Danny to show his knowledge of wines.