Fringe Box



Bill Bellerby, A Tribute From the Guildford Labour Party

Published on: 21 Sep, 2017
Updated on: 26 Sep, 2017

From the Guildford Labour Party Birthday Party for Bill Bellerby’s 100th birthday showing Bill, Emily Thornberry (Shadow Foreign Secretary) and George Dokimakis (Chair of Guildford Labour Party).

By Brian Creese

A look back on Bill Bellerby’s political life as a committed member of the Labour party…

I am sure we all appreciated the touching account of Bill Bellerby’s life which appeared in The Guildford Dragon NEWS yesterday and his extraordinary record of public service across more than 40 years.

Both Bill and Doreen were borough councillors for length of time, both were county councillors too, and Bill was twice elected as mayor.

And Bill was at heart a pure Labour man. He learned his politics during the war when it was Labour’s vision of a better future that fuelled political allegiances. For many of us working with Labour now, his and Doreen’s dominance of politics in Guildford seems hard to imagine!

But if Labour was dominant in parts of Guildford it was not by chance. It was by sheer hard work. Keith Chesterton, who knew Bill well from their time on the Executive Committee of Guildford Labour Party in those years, recalls that Bill went round homes a street at a time, found out problems and would deliver a note to those homes the following week saying what he’d done.

He was a hard taskmaster, “persuading” his fellow Labour councillors to go out with him on Sunday mornings at about 8am.

Keith said: “When it came to elections and canvassing we’d set out together but in no time he was inside somebody’s house, dealing with some query and he’d do about three houses a night.

“Sally Thornberry (the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry’s mother) got quite cross with him about it. He continued to work all day, even when he’d ‘retired’ from paid occupation. He said to me if I wanted to contact him, I should do it, ‘After 11pm or before 7am!’”

Bill also did a great deal for the town. He started the campaign for Park & Rides 50 years ago, and eventually persuaded Guildford Borough Council to introduce it. He threw his weight behind the Spectrum project and he always supported Sports & the Arts.

When the Stoke roundabout was being replaced by the current traffic lights, Keith asked if the scheme had facilities for cyclists and was told that it would do. Two years later when the final scheme came to the Local Committee, there was no cycling provision. Bill and Keith complained but were told it was far too late to alter it. So many years later, and at much greater expense, some help for cyclists was finally provided.

It seems as if Bill had always been well ahead of everyone else in his campaigns. He will be missed by all those who knew him, not just as a great public servant of Guildford, but as an inspiration for the Guildford Labour Party.

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