Hatfield councillors, Pat Knight, Beryl Harrison and Linda Curran, and local Caroline Flint MP, paid tribute this week to a former MP, Dick Kelly by erecting a bench in his honour.
Said Cllr Pat Knight: “Many people in this area knew Dick Kelley and this was an area he had known and loved his whole life. He was a decent man, who devoted most of his life to his union and to public office. We are proud to place this bench as a lasting tribute to him.”
At the unveiling of the bench, Caroline Flint told community representatives that Dick Kelley “was born in the early years of the 20th century when the Labour Party had just two MPs. He died aged 80, having held public office for 30 of those years. He was a county councillor for a decade, before becoming a Labour MP from 1959 -79.
"When he became an MP for a constituency he had known his whole life, he was just the third Labour MP in Don Valley’s history."
Dick Kelley’s daughter, town councillor Rita Sheppard said: “even in these modern days, Dick’s vision is still our inspiration. This is a proud day for me.”
The full text of Caroline Flint’s tribute is below:
“Dick Kelley was man who lived his life for politics. He was born in the early years of the 20th century when the Labour Party had just two MPs. He died aged 80, having held public office for 30 of those years.
“He was a county councillor for a decade, before becoming a Labour MP from 1959 -79. When he became an MP for a constituency he had known his whole life, he was just the third labour MP in Don Valley’s history.
“He served as an MP though the whole of the Wilson and Callaghan governments, leaving office just before Margaret Thatcher came to power.
“Indeed, history records that Dick Kelley was a miner, active in the NUM, and a union branch secretary for ten years. Indeed, he would have been an MP for longer had not the num decided to ask all of its mps who were over 65 to retire.
Despite this, Dick Kelley served the people of don valley for 20 years.
“As I told Parliament during my maiden speech in 1997, in his Maiden speech, Dick Kelley was concerned for the economic survival of the village communities he represented. He pleaded: these villages must be kept alive.”
“That is a view that has been expressed to me many times, during my time as an MP. Dick Kelley was proud to represent don valley, proud to represent a constituency with a mining tradition, just as I am today. The people of this area, and we in the Labour Party, are proud to remember and honour Dick Kelley with this bench in his memory.”