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.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is returning all donations made by Redditors 'in honour' of Jennifer Lawrence and her naked photos
news

Website users raised funds after Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak

News
Tony Blair has received a GQ award for 'Philanthropist of the Year'
people

GQ Men Of The Year Awards returned some surprising results

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
news

The Tardis-style house measures in at just 83 inches wide

News
advertising
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
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

Renewables Consultant

£28000 - £34000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Renewable...

Energy Procurement Consultant

£26000 - £34000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Pr...

Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teachers needed for Se...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed for Se...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York