Tribute to Pat Turner – Hampshire UNISON member and lifelong activist

In late January, a few days before Pat’s eighty-seventh birthday, Diana Barnes and Joe Hannigan representing Hampshire Unison Retired Members’ Section, attended a meeting in Southampton of the Wessex Branch of the National Pensioners Convention, (to which we are affiliated) chaired by Pat. Their purpose was to make a presentation acknowledging a lifetime of contribution by Pat to trade unionism.

Born into a working class family, later as part of a historical ‘levelling up’ project she was enrolled at Itchen Grammar School, many of whose pupils were fee paying. In time she became aware of society’s inequalities, a fact which was to influence her future life. After research and attending political meetings, she joined the Labour Party.

During her working life she was an active member of the TUC, the Union of Shop and Distributive Allied Workers, the Transport and General Workers Union and NALGO, which after amalgamation became Unison. She held local, regional and national positions in these organisations.

Her children have memories of attending with her demonstrations in London and other locations. Most recently she was seen with her banner outside the BBC at Southampton in protest at the withdrawal of free TV licences for most pensioners 75+ years old.

Currently she is Chair of the Wessex Region of the NPC, a campaigning group working in the interests of pensioners. In addition, she remains an active member of Hampshire Unison Retired Members Section.

Time dictates that I can only provide a sketch of Pat’s lifetime work, which I can assure you is fascinating, often achieved despite on occasions a challenging personal life.

The presentation consisted of a silver-framed photograph of most of Hampshire Unison’s Retired Members Committee including Pat, together with their banner, whilst attending Tolpuddle Festival in 2019. The frame was suitably engraved.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid virus, Pat continues to be active, working in the interests of others, particularly pensioners.

Keep at it, Pat, our valued colleague and friend.

Chris O’Neill

Chair, Hampshire Unison Retired Members Section

Updated (12/03/2022)

Sue Pitter is a member of Hampshire Unison Health Branch and Unison Southeast Region Retired Members Committee. She also serves on the Wessex Executive of the National Pensioners Committee. She wished to add to our tribute to Pat Turner.

‘I came into Unison Retired Members as a mouse – having been in the union all my working life, but never active – then when I went to pay my first and only fee to become a Unison retired member, I was asked to take on the role of general dogsbody and my knowledge of unions and Unison was at the lower end of the scale.

Pat very kindly took me under her wing when at meetings, whether at Unison or the NPC. She explained so many things to me when I felt lost in space and gave me a great deal of encouragement with her first-class knowledge as well as kindness and friendship.

A wonderful write up on your branch website, and I wanted to add my own tribute to you, Pat.’