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 or by post to Obituaries, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. We reserve the right to edit copy for length and style.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
voices We're advocating a popular capitalism that works for all, not a crony corporatism for just the few
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower