Lives Remembered: Geoff Kelly

 

Industrial disputes and football refereeing have little in common except that both impinge on the public consciousness only when mistakes are made. My father Geoffrey Kelly, an industrial relations officer during the week and referee at weekends, was never happier than when his interventions, whether at the negotiating table or on the football pitch, went unnoticed.

Born in Woking in 1927, he attended Guildford Royal Grammar School, but left after his General Schools Certificate due to his family's financial circumstances. After serving with the British Army of Occupation in Austria he returned to work for Southern Railways in 1947 but, increasingly politically aware, took a job with his trade union, the Transport and Salaried Staff Association, in the early 1950s. In 1965 he crossed the negotiating table, moving to the Local Authorities Conditions of Service Advisory Board (LACSAB).

During this period LACSAB represented local authorities in national pay negotiations, meaning that he nownegotiated against, instead of for, the trade unions. This may appear a strange move for a former Labour activist, but he always claimed it took just as long to persuade the employers to put areasonable offer on the table as it did to get the unions to accept it. The 1970s were the heyday of collective bargaining and LACSAB was in the middle of this, facing down the big public sector unions such as the NUT and NALGO. Geoff inhabited the bleak no-man's land between political rhetoric andreality, and the Labour activist of the 1950s gradually turned into a committed floating voter.

Refereeing may not seem the most obvious choice of relaxation whenMonday to Friday involves trying to make two opposing parties see sense, but it reflected a deep love of football. One unlikely highlight of those days was to referee a match between a scratch team from a Butlin's holiday camp and Matt Busby's Manchester United, who were holding a pre-season training camp nearby.

Anxious not to stagnate mentally in retirement, Geoff served on industrial tribunals until he was 70. He specialised in race relations cases and his detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation allowed him to continue to broaden his cultural horizons even while he was in Bart's Hospital in 2007. Knowing that discrimination on the grounds of race or religion was illegal, he was able to eat a varied diet, choosing from the Halal menu one day, the kosher menu the next, and so on until he was discharged. He also helped weekly at two local schools almost until his final admission to hospital.

A committed Christian, he was a member of St Peter's Church, Harold Wood, for nearly 50 years. His faith gave him the moral courage to grapple with decisions of national significanceat the peak of his career, the humility to get on with unsung, unglamorous, jobs throughout his retirement andan inner serenity which lasted right up to the moment the final whistle blew. He died on 24 May at Queen's Hospital in Romford.

Martyn Kelly

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, colleague or family member please send a piece of no more than 400 words by email to obituaries@independent.co.uk or by post to Obituaries, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. We reserve the right to edit copy for length and style.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on