Colm Keaveney -2005

Born in Co. Derry, N. Ireland

Educated at St. Columb’s, Derry where he was a schoolmate of John Hume and Phil Coulter.

A doubly qualified nurse he worked at Purdysburn Hospital, Belfast; St Ebba’s Hospital, Epsom; Darenth Park Hospital, Kent; Cotshill Hospital, Chipping Norton and finally as Charge Nurse at Aston Hall Hospital, Derby.

An active trade unionist he was appointed Regional Secretary to COHSE’s No 5 Region (North East Thames and East Anglia) on 1 August 1964.

Colm was promoted to COHSE’s Head Office as National Officer from 1 July, 1974 where he was responsible – amongst a number of portfolios over the years – for negotiations for Ancillary Staff, Ambulance Staff and Professional Technical “B” Council staffs. He was also responsible for Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical staffs. He was Staff Side Secretary of the PTB Council; some of its Committees and Chair of the Staff Side of the General Whitley Council.
He was an acknowledged expert on NHS Superannuation.

From his arrival in England Colm was active in local Labour Party politics. He was elected to the NEC of the Party in 1987 where he served until his retirement in 1994. He was a strong supporter of Neil Kinnock and his efforts to make the Party electable.

Colm was elected Deputy General Secretary of COHSE in 1987 and re-elected unopposed in 1992. In this post Colm managed all of the negotiating officers and the Regions as well as leading on the introduction of an integrated computerised membership and branch accounting membership system.

He led the negotiations on behalf of COHSE in the merger negotiations on merger with NALGO and NUPE. His style and determination to ensure the best traditions of COHSE were taken into a new union won a great deal of admiration.

Colm retired in 1994 from his final post as Deputy General Secretary of UNISON following which he was able, for a number of years to enjoy and pursue his many interests – not least the local Labour Party; his voluntary work with the Citizens Advice Bureau and travelling to many parts of the world.

Diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease nearly four years ago, he bore his illness with fortitude and a complete lack of bitterness. He died on 14 June 2005 – just over a day before his 70th birthday. He will be sadly missed by all those who new him and ,not least, by his devoted wife, Lila, his three children and two grandchildren.