Richard Cooke 1938-2009

Richard Cooke died on 3 April 2009 after a short illness at his home in Hadfield, Derbyshire, aged 70. He was born in Gorton in 1938 and raised in Denton, Manchester.

Richard joined the Labour party in 1956 and was very active for the next 52 years taking part in every election campaign from then on and holding many CLP positions. He served as a councillor for 25 years and was part of the first ever Labour administration in High Peak. As a lifelong trade unionist he represented his union at General Committee level throughout his working life and into retirement.

In December 1974 he won a by election for High Peak Borough Council gaining the seat from the Tories. Following boundary changes he then went on to represent the Gamesley ward until retiring in 1999.

He was passionate about housing and believed that everyone should have a decent home. His proudest achievement was to negotiate the transfer of the Gamesley council ‘overspill’ estate from Manchester City Council to High Peak Borough Council. This he did whilst in opposition and it resulted in much needed investment in the area and gave people the chance to elect the council they paid rent to.

He was a constant campaigner for change and could be often found walking the streets of his ward noting down vandalism or ideas for improvement and he worked tirelessly with local residents and community groups to improve the area and win new funds and facilities.

When Labour took control of High Peak, Richard became the first ever Labour chair of housing.

Until his death he still attended his branch meetings of Unite held at Stalybridge Labour Club, having originally joined the union in 1956 when it was the Electrical Trades Union. Throughout his working life as a radio and television engineer he was a shop steward.

Richard leaves behind his wife Winfred, two children and five grandchildren.