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Tribute to Roy Grantham CBE

We are sad to report the death of Roy Grantham CBE, a former Chairman of the Alliance House Foundation who was closely involved with the IAS since its inception.  Derek Rutherford has provided the following tribute to Roy, which he gave when he was asked to speak, as a friend, at his funeral:

The last occasion that Marion and I had the privilege of conversing with Roy was on Friday 19 July when we spent an afternoon with him in the nursing home.

Roy and Marion particularly reminisced about their days at Eastwood Grange, a Youth Conference Centre in Derbyshire owned by the British National Temperance League.  It had been purchased as a home for the National Temperance Summer School.

Some 60 years ago Roy knocked on the door of Eastwood Grange to ask if it were possible to have a bed for the night – he had been walking in Derbyshire.  Herbert Jones, one of the visionaries of the Temperance Movement, invited him in and found him accommodation.  Roy was to be greatly influenced by Herbert Jones.  The Centre was full of young people attending one of the weeks of the Summer School.  The warmth of the welcome, the happy atmosphere of young people enjoying themselves without alcohol left a lasting impression upon the 26 year old.  Many young people who came into contact with Herbert Jones had their lives changed and Roy was no exception.  Roy returned to Eastwood Grange on many subsequent occasions and the once social drinker became an abstainer.  A keen and dedicated Trade Unionist and Labour Party member, he was to espouse another cause – temperance.  Little did he realise at the time that he was emulating some of the founders of the Labour Movement, Keir Hardie, Arthur Henderson and the great Miners’ Union Leader, Thomas Burt.  The early Labour Movement was very much influenced by the politics of temperance.  Roy has been absolutely loyal to all the causes he espoused.

My own connection with Roy goes back 40 years when I left teaching in 1968.  I was on a list of Labour candidates and needed a new union to join.  Marion insisted that I contact Roy and join APEX, which I did.  I thought no more about the outcome until 1973 when the treasurer of Altrincham & Sale Labour Party informed me that I had received a donation from Roy’s Union towards my General Election expenses in fighting the Conservative Chancellor, Tony Barber.

I had the privilege to begin to share the friendship established between Roy and Marion in 1983, when Roy accepted my invitation to join the Board of the United Kingdom Temperance Alliance, now the Alliance House Foundation.  He dedicated a great deal of his time to the Alliance and during his 30 years’ membership he held the post of Vice Chairman for five years and Chairman for twelve years.  Over the years he has made an invaluable contribution to its work.

As Chief Executive of the Alliance, Roy was very supportive to me in my work.  I feel this was due to his own experience of being a General Secretary and he was aware of the vital relationship required between a Chairman and Secretary.  Roy brought to our policy discussions gifts he had gained from his long experience in the struggle for social reform and social justice.  In his annual address to the Alliance in 1992 he reminded us that our efforts to reduce alcohol related harm had “the character of a marathon rather than a sprint.”

I have recently been asked if Roy was an idealist.  My reply was that he had both heart and head.  Roy was committed to his ideals but knew he had to be pragmatic to achieve them.  As we have seen from several press obituaries he was a key figure in advocating reform within the Labour Party.  Likewise with the Temperance Movement.  He saw the need to modernise and was a key supporter in establishing the Institute of Alcohol Studies. He used his contacts as a member of the Independent Broadcasting Authority to organise a seminar for the IAS at the IBA on the “Presentation of Alcohol in the Mass Media” in 1985.  At that time, television drama and soaps were saturated with drinking scenes which ignored the harmful consequences. Whilst the former complaint remains true at least we have, on occasions, storylines of alcohol-related harm.

Aware of the consequences of the harmonisation of excise duties in the EC and the impact it would have on alcohol related harm in the UK, he led one of only two deputations to DG 21, the Directorate for Excise Duties.  In all this he saw the need for extending IAS influence into Europe.

20 years ago he greatly assisted me in establishing EUROCARE, an organisation of alcohol and health agencies in Europe.  He demonstrated his international vision in his concern about the targeting of developing countries by the global alcohol industry. As a consequence, he supported the establishment of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance in Syracuse, New York State. Since its inception, GAPA has worked very closely with WHO.  I did not have the chance to report to him of the 900 delegates from 54 countries who attended the GAPA Conference in South Korea a few weeks ago.

Marion and I enjoyed a very close friendship with Roy. It did have one hair-raising moment when Roy was staying with us one winter and he decided we should pay a visit to mutual Eastwood friends Margaret Hall and Muriel Daniel.  So we set off in his brand new car to Sheffield.  On driving home in freezing temperatures and ice bound roads, the car skidded and we all ended up in a ditch.  Fortunately it was directly opposite Bassetlaw Hospital.  We were able to walk up the driveway to the hospital and find shelter and drink plenty of coffee until the AA arrived and extracted the car from the ditch.

What more can be said?  Time does not allow so let me sum up. 

Roy was a man of great courage and tenacity, a man of integrity and honesty, who was not prepared to sacrifice his principles for personal gain.  He was firm in his convictions.  He gave unstinted loyalty to his friends.  He had great strength of character.

I find it significant that he was born in 1926 – a year that is indelibly etched in the minds of trade unionists and those who, like myself, were born into trade union families.

It is not surprising, then, that he described our struggle as a “marathon not a sprint”.  That belief no doubt sustained him in all he strived to do.

As we gather to celebrate his life, we can give thanks that we had the privilege of meeting Roy in our lives and that he undoubtedly touched our hearts.  Roy will continue to do so whilst we have breath in us.