George Speight

George Speight
George Speight
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GEORGE Speight, who dedicated more than 30 years to public service in West Yorkshire, has died aged 84.

As a Labour councillor he represented firstly Birstall ward then Batley East on Batley Council, and after its formation in 1979 was elected to Kirklees Council before retiring in 2003.

For two years he served alongside his daughter Catherine, who was a Kirklees councillor from 1998 to 2000.

Mr Speight, who lived in Batley for most of his life, was Mayor of Kirklees in 1987. During his year of office he set himself two challenges, learning to swim and learning to drive to help raise funds for his chosen charities – the Salvation Army, and providing a full body scanner at Huddersfield General Infirmary.

He learnt to swim at Batley Baths, but was unable to complete his driving challenge because of a leg injury.

Mr Speight was born in Morley the only son of Albert and Annie Speight who ran the Hare
and Hounds public house, in Ardsley.

He was at educated St Joseph’s Catholic School in Morley, leaving at 14 and at first helping his parents in the pub. He served in the Army in Palestine during his National Service and on returning became a milkman, a job which led to him meeting his future wife, Joan.

When he left her a pint short one morning she chased him down the street, so beginning a friendship which was to lead to marriage of 55 years.

He later worked as a pipefitter at Dawson and Barfos and Vickers Dawson in Gomersal, where he took an interest in politics through the Amalgamated Engineering Union, of which
he was chief steward and later works convenor.

During his time as a councillor he served on a number of committees and local organisations.

He chaired Kirklees Council’s highways committee, was Labour group chief whip and on the heavy woollen planning sub-committee.

He also helped to create Oakwell Hall Country Park at Birstall.

He was made an honorary life member of the Huddersfield Canal Society after serving on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal joint committee to secure the waterway’s restoration.

He was a member of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, and a Justice of the Peace in the late 1970s.

Mr Speight also served on Kirklees Racial Equality Council, and was governor of a number of local schools including St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Batley and St John Fisher Roman Catholic High School, in Dewsbury.

He attended St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Batley, and was instrumental in the creation of it’s social club.

As a lifelong member of the Co-op he served on the area and regional committees for Co-operative Retail Services, later The Co-operative Group.

One of his interests was supporting and protecting fairgrounds, work which was recognised by the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain who
made him an honorary member.

He was a devoted family man, and also enjoyed Sunday visits to the Batley Irish Democratic League Club.

Mr Speight, whose wife predeceased him in 2009, is survived by his children
Damian, Catherine, Carmel, Joseph and Bernadette, four granddaughters and five grandsons, and four great grandchildren.