George McArthur (Geordie) who died in Edinburgh Royal infirmary on 18th May was someone who lived for his family and local community and also for the wider community of the TUC and the Labour Movement.
He was born on 12th January 1938, and was very proud of the fact that he was the first child in the family of six to be born in Prestonpans - a true Panner. As a child, he exhibited many of the tendencies he revealed as an adult, a sense of adventure, not being afraid of challenges, standing up to authority, yet doing all this with a sense of humour which endeared him to friend and foe alike.
Although Georgie never married. he was very involved in the family life of his brothers and sisters and their families and no family gathering was complete without the toot on his bike horn signalling the arrival of Uncle Geordie. After the death of his parents, he remained in the family home and was very proud of being an excellent cook, so that every New Year's day he took great delight in hosting dinner for his brothers and sisters. In his mother's latter years he looked after her with great tenderness, thoughtfully anticipating her every need and taking her "the messages" in her wheelchair.
A familiar figure in East Lothian, he loved the beauty of the country side exploring all over the county or going to Haddingtom for Union meetings on his bike. One evening he phoned home to say he was enjoying the view of the countryside from the top of the Lammerviews and enjoying his plated salad. He also travelled extensively on the continent on his bike phoning home from five different countries. After attending conferences down South he would cycle home stopping at various places on route. One evening a phone call was received and he whispered. "Ahm keeping ma voice doon. Ah'm in a pub in Tory territory". It transpired later that he had had a great time in the pub arguing with the locals and never bought a drink all night. He also loved his garden and in spring his wonderful array of daffodils and other spring bulbs was followed in summer by a beautiful display of bedding plants - a joy to behold.
It was through gardening that Geordie first became involved in the Trade Union movement. and quickly became a shop steward, later becoming secretary of East Lothian branch. This covered a wide area and range of members and he worked diligently to increase the membership and. gradually became more involved with NUPE at Scottish and UK level. becoming chairman of NUPE's Scottish Local Government commitee and a member of the Scottish National Joint Council for Local Authotities. He played an important part from 1990- 1993 in the merger talks by Cohse, Nalgo and Nupe so that his openness, patience and good humour helped to forge the structure of Unison in Scotland.
As well as being involved with The Trade Union Movement Geordie lived for and loved the Labour Movement and was a constant fixture at Trade Union and Labour party conferences. where his big personality and sense of humour was well known. One time he persuaded John Home Robertson to leave his conference pass with him as he had to leave Blackpool early. Although some eighteen inches shorter and a few stones heavier, Geordie managed to convince security he was in fact John Home Robertson and proceeded to sit down in the row reserved for the Shadow Cabinet grinning broadly. Lesley Quinn, the Scottish General Secretary was horrified and had him thrown out of the Conference hall!
Despite mixing with those in the higher echelons of power, Geordie never forgot his roots and worked tirelessly for East Lothian Labour party canvassing and using his computer skills to do a tremendous amount of work for the party and since his retirement he has has been secretary for the local community council. Also he loved the comradeship and social life of the local Labour club, especially the yearly trip to Odhamstocks and helped greatly to keep the Club going with his capacity for consuming a great deal of its merchandice!
The cards and messages received by his family from Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Home Robertson, Helen Liddell, Anne
Picking, other well known MPS, past and present senior officials of NUPE and UNISON and neighbours and friends, made
his family very proud in their sorrow as did the tremendous support received at his funeral. The service at Preston
Grange Church was conducted by Reverend Robert Simpson and the tributes given by Anne Picking MP and Bob Thomson from
Unison were inspiring, revealing how much respect Geordie engendered, throughout the TUC and Labour Movements. The interment
took place at Prestonpans Cemetery in his carefully chosen plot "a stone's throw from the house" and the service
concluded with a rousing rendition of "The Red Flag". The message left on one of the floral tributes by his
neighbours. sums up how affectionately he was regarded by those who knew and loved him.
"Toot yer Horn tae let us ken ye're safely hame! Yer Neebors"
You will be sadly missed Geordie, by your loving family, friends, neighbours and comrades but you will always be remembered by us all with love and affection.
A website dedicated to Geordie containing pictures from friends and relatives is available at www.georgemcarthur.info