Hammersmith lawyer Henry Ebner: ‘Henry was incisive and a gentleman’

Henry Ebner was founding partner in the firm Myers, Ebner and Deaner for 40 years, and also twice President of the Hammersmith Rotary Club and raised many thousands of pounds for charity.

He was its president when the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith reopened in 1979, and involved in a special charity night which raised money for a local charity, the Invalid Children’s Association.

Henry presented the cheque for £10,000 to Princess Margaret, the charity’s patron.

He was one of the initial advisers at the North Kensington Law Centre and involved in legal aid throughout his career – he insisted on the firm taking on cases which the defendants could not afford without help.

His daughter Sarah – now a journalist for the Telegraph – remembers collecting food with him for the vulnerable at Tesco in Shepherd’s Bush over many Christmases.

Henry was born in April, 1937 in Vienna, Austria and given the name Heinz.

Henry Ebner with his wife Ann

His parents, Berthold and Margarethe ran two cinemas but after the anschluss in March 1938, when Germany marched into Austria, Berthold was arrested and sent to Dachau and subsequently Buchenwald camps from March-April 1939 for refusing to show Nazi propaganda films.

The family escaped from Austria as part of an amnesty for those who could show they had another country to go to, by paying the exit tax.

The Ebner family arrived in the UK via Brussels on August 16, 1939, two weeks before war broke out.

They became a cook and handyman to a vicar in Binham in Norfolk. Berthold’s father, sister and family all died in concentration camps, as did Margarethe’s mother.

Berthold was interned at Central Promenade Camp on the Isle of Man as an “enemy alien”. Heinz and his mother subsequently moved to London.

Henry had some early memories of going underground for safety at Warren Street Tube station during the Blitz.

After his release, Berthold and his family were evacuated to Guildford by the Jewish Aid Committee. There, they shared a three bedroomed, one bathroom house, with three other German and Austrian families.

Heinz – by now called Henry – was sent to the local school, but his father’s concerns that he was being “mollycoddled” by his mother led to him being sent to a boarding school, Stoatley Rough School in Surrey, from the age of eight to 18.

The school was for refugee children – pupils helped clean it and run it. Henry became head boy.

Henry’s grandfather had been a lawyer and his father had trained to be one too. Henry did a law degree at the London School of Economics.

While there, he became a “Poor Man’s Lawyer”, offering free legal advice at a local Law Centre. He qualified with honours, as a solicitor in 1961.

He married Ann Domb in August 1964 and took over a small law firm in Hammersmith in January 1965, renaming it Ralph J Myers and Ebner.

Most of his practice was commercial and family work, but he was also involved in German work, and, after German reunification, with restitution claims with Germany and pensions claims with Austria. He also served on two committees dispensing funds to Jewish refugees and sat on tribunals as a social security judge.

Henry retired as a partner in 2002, but remained as a consultant until 2016, the year his wife died.

Even after he finally retired he still used to go back to Hammersmith to have his hair cut, by which time he was living in Swiss Cottage.

He died on October 17. He is survived by three children, Joanna, Mark and Sarah, and seven grandchildren.

The firm he created in 1965 is now Myers, Fletcher and Gordon. Senior partner Gary Duke-Cohan said: “He was very much an old style solicitor of his generation, able to turn his hand to nearly anything. He was incisive, determined and a gentleman.”

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