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A tribute to Nick Turner

I first met Nick in 1981 when joining the Labour Party.  Nick’s total dedication to the Party is widely acknowledged.  Joining as a young man, most of his life was spent in its service.  During a membership of more than 60 years, Nick held almost all of the offices in his local constituency and, in all those years, as a LP campaigner and activist he was always willing to look at new ways to present and promote the Party, continually staying abreast of new computer technology. 

In 1983 Nick was elected to the Canterbury City Council to represent Westgate Ward in Canterbury which has recently suffered the sad loss of our Labour Councillor Gill Gower.  As a councillor Nick was always prepared to present the case of the working man and woman.  He was a staunch supporter of the small trader and market traders earning their respect when he stood up for them in a dispute with the council. In addition, Nick was a long-term stalwart of the Co-Operative Party, still active in recent times.

It is true to say that Nick was at his best when working behind the scenes.  Not one to seek public recognition with rhetoric and public speeches, Nick’s true expertise lay in his organisational skills.  As an organiser and election agent he was exemplary, one to whom people turned, and were referred to by Regional Office, for advice and knowledge on election strategy.  Nick became highly respected by organisations in other constituencies and nothing was too much trouble for him to undertake.  When door to door campaigning became more physically difficult, Nick spent considerable time at his computer producing sheets and sheets of guidance notes, canvassing/voter ID sheets, and other election and promotional material.  He could always be relied upon to respond to requests for assistance. In some past elections Nick was producing door to door leaflets once a month, then in the last month once a week, several in the last week with an eve of poll leaflet, and on polling day, three, i.e an early bird, a midday reminder and a don’t-be-too-late leaflet.  During Emily Thornberry’s election the Tories hated driving into Whitstable because every route was overwhelmingly plastered with red and yellow Labour bill boards and window posters erected by Party members and supporters but produced by Nick.

Nick was a strong proponent of gender equality in the LP and in the selection of candidates.  In his time as an election organiser or agent he supported female parliamentary candidates for the Canterbury Constituency among them Jeannette Gould, Linda Keen, Cheryl Hall and Emily Thornberry.  In 2001 Nick led the campaign to help Emily push the Tory MP Julian Brazier into a marginal position. On hearing of his death, Emily said, “we all come across people who change our lives and Nick was one of those for me. His kindness, knowledge and support made all the difference to my confidence and effectiveness when I stood in Canterbury, which in turn gave me the confidence to stand in Islington.”

If he was your friend Nick was loyal and utterly dependable.  As a councillor and election organiser I always felt supported by Nick who was readily available with wise counsel in regard to election strategy.  So in 2012 I was pleased to be asked to present the Labour Party Long Service Award signed by the then leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband.

I knew Nick, not only as a Labour comrade but as a devoted family man immensely proud of his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchild.  In a long life of loyal service to the Party Nick was always supported by his amazing wife, Doreen, at his side.  Her presence in the background enabled him to give the time and energy that he did to the Labour Party.  Many were the times that their home was turned upside down with election material or as a Committee room on election day and on many more occasions it was Doreen who sustained ‘the troops’ with hot and cold refreshments at training days or other party events.  It wasn’t possible to see Nick as the key activist he was without recognising Doreen’s role behind him.  In addition to his family life and the work he undertook for the Labour Party, he still found time to pursue his other interests.  An avid book reader he could be relied upon to pass on his much loved books, particularly political biographies and thrillers.  An accomplished bridge player, in his more recent years Nick played an active role in the Pilgrims’ Bridge Club – still utilizing his organisational skills at which he excelled. 

Farewell dear Nick. You will be sadly missed but never forgotten.  Rest in Peace.  

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