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Saul de Groen obituary | Mental health

My brother Saul de Groen, who has died aged 59 of a brain tumour, was a psychotherapist who ran a thriving practice in London.

He was born in Johannesburg to Joseph, a professional bassoonist, and his wife, Phyllis (nee Gordon). After he left Redhill high school in Johannesburg, his parents sent him to the US so that he could avoid conscription into the South African army. He studied at the Philadelphia Textile School, graduating in 1985, after which he moved to the UK to join his family, who had arrived there from South Africa that year.

In London Saul worked first for an interior design firm before becoming an aerobics instructor in Covent Garden, where he met his life partner Soph (Sophocles) Maraveyas, an architect who attended his classes.

In 1988, aged 24, Saul was diagnosed with HIV and at the time we believed he had just two years to live. However, without the use of any drugs and through significant changes to his lifestyle, he lived a healthy existence for another 35 years.

In 1997 he began psychotherapy training at Spectrum Therapy in Finsbury Park, north London, and became an accredited psychotherapist, initially working for the NHS before setting up in private practice in Camden and Islington. Although he did not specialise in any particular area, he worked with many young gay men who faced various struggles living in a heteronormative world. He continued practising until a few months before his death.

Saul was a sensitive, courageous and brilliant soul who tackled adversity with courage and was determined to live life to the full. He laughed often, and loud, but could also sit silently, trusting in a universe far greater than himself.

He is survived by Soph, his mother, and two sisters, me and Jody. He was predeceased by his two other siblings, Jonty and Lolly.


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