It is hard to understand how Leon MacLaren was able to perform the numerous tasks as described. He suffered from ill health all his life, including epilepsy, psoriasis, and in later life also diabetes. In the period 1982/83 he almost lost his life due to a mysterious loss of white blood cells and he spent his last years in a wheel chair. His doctor said that he had literally been kept alive for a number of years by the devoted care of his assistant.
The time for him to withdraw came not, as is generally believed, with the appointment of his successor in 1992, but three years earlier. In 1989 Leon MacLaren was urged by the Board of the Executive to replace the material for Part One which he had written in 1953 based on Ouspensky’s System. The intake of new pupils had been steadily declining and the Executive thought that this was due to the material being ‘out of date’. He doubted it and to prove his point went to take a Part One course himself using his own material. It was a great success. It was not that the material needed to be changed, but the person teaching it! However, it made no difference and the request that the material should be rewritten was repeated. Leon MacLaren eventually gave the task to a younger man. It was a momentous decision, for he said that the School belongs to he who writes the Part One material. This was when he handed over the School, but for some reason he kept it quiet. Yet it marked the end of an era. The fact that the attendance declined and that no one could do anything about it was for him a sign to withdraw. The heyday had passed. Interestingly, the intake of new members never picked up again.
From then on Leon MacLaren performed his function with great reluctance. He retreated into silence more and more. It was obvious that he was moving into a different dimension, no longer interested in the roles he had played. Only one or two people witnessed this major change in his approach. A generous pupil offered him his seaside home in Southampton, making it harder for people to visit him and only a handful stayed in touch. Regardless of his weakened condition, three weeks before his death he commenced his customary lecture tour round the world. He got as far as Durban in South Africa where he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The following words he spoke from his hospital bed which severed the last ties to his life’s work: “The leadership is now ended.”
He was brought back to London where he died in a hospital on 24th of June. He had played his part to the full and taught the best lesson to his pupils at the end, that when the play is over, one simply leaves the stage.