A PROMINENT trade unionist who gave up countless hours to work on community events was laid to rest on Thursday, January 13.
Keith Faulkner, 62, of St Helen’s Road, spent more than 30 years organising rallies and conferences for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and helped oversee a host of Hastings’ most popular events, such as The Seafood and Wine Festival, Jack-in-the-Green, Fat Tuesday and the America Ground Independence Day celebrations.
He died of a heart attack on December 13, with his funeral held at the Hastings Crematorium on The Ridge yesterday afternoon (Thursday).
At the TUC Mr Faulkner planned huge rallies like the People’s March for Jobs, the 25,000-strong 1992 demonstration against the pit closures, the 1996 anti-racism Respect concert and the annual conference. At the time he died he was drawing up plans for a massive campaign against the Government cuts.
Born in Durham in 1948, his family moved to Surrey when he was 13. Dubbed a “latter-day Viking” in one obituary, Mr Faulkner’s first taste of unionism came when he was an apprentice hot metal worker and his boss told him to cut his long hair. He refused and thanks to his union won the right to keep his trademark locks. After studying art at Reading University he used his design and organisation skills to make the TUC more professional.
Rob Sanders, who worked with him for more than 20 years, said: “He was a pivotal figure in the TUC. He was very organised, very meticulous and didn’t suffer fools gladly. He set himself incredibly high standards and demanded them of others. He was massively loyal to the trade union movement and that is ultimately what drove him - he completely believed in what we stand for.”
Keith moved to Hastings in the 1990s and Steve Potter of Hastings Borough Council, who worked with him on a number of events, said: “He never sought any payment or praise, knowing that he had contributed was reward enough. He – and his valuable efforts, and his dry, laconic sense of humour – will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Sarah Watson, a neighbour and former colleague, added: “The people of Hastings owe him a debt of thanks. He was a warm and community-spirited and I feel privileged to have known him.”
He was separated from his wife Christine but they remained friends and she and their sons Owen and Ryan survive him.