My great-uncle Miles Paine, who has died aged 96, was an English engineer who lived for a total of 20 years (on and off between 1944 and 1975) in India, where he helped to supply equipment to the country’s railways. While there he came into contact with the interfaith Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement, led by Rajmohan Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and became a devoted MRA volunteer even after he had returned home.
Miles was born in Paddington, London, the youngest of the three children of Hugh Paine, a stockbroker, and his wife, Muriel (nee Hawkings). He spent his childhood in West Byfleet, Surrey, and went to Charterhouse school in Godalming. At the age of 17 he joined the Royal Engineers and, following basic training, was sent to Jesus College, Cambridge, for a crash course in engineering.
Towards the end of the second world war he transferred to the Indian army as a captain, fighting on the Burmese front before returning home in 1947. On his release from the army he was for several years a production engineer at the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company in Chippenham, Wiltshire, before accepting an opportunity to return to India to manage a Westinghouse factory in Calcutta (Kolkata) to supply the Indian railway industry with air braking and signalling equipment.
After a move to another engineering company, Struthers Wells, took him to Bombay (Mumbai) in 1966, Miles met Janet Hutchison, who was working there for MRA, and in 1968 left his job to work as a volunteer for the movement.
He and Janet married in 1969 and had the first of their two sons in Bombay before coming back to live in Britain in 1975. For several years they jointly managed Tirley Garth, an MRA conference centre in Cheshire, before moving to Manchester to host regular MRA events attended by international students and to help out at the city’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Their work was funded by charitable contributions to the MRA.
In the 1990s, Miles and Janet travelled widely with an initiative called Foundations for Freedom, running courses throughout eastern Europe on the moral and spiritual values that underpin democracy. Over the years, they welcomed around 550 international guests to their home, some of whom were Croatian refugees fleeing conflict.
A friend of Miles once noted that “he never put himself forward, and instead always did what he could to put others at ease and make them shine”. He was a practical and positive person, with an infectious laugh.
When Miles turned 80, he and Janet moved to her native Glasgow to continue their MRA work, but a year later she died. He remained in Glasgow and spent his final years living with family, but never really recovered from her death.
He is survived by their two sons, Malcolm and Douglas, and four grandchildren, Joshua, Dorah, Georgia and Marlin.