A tribute to Callum Stanland

A tribute to Callum Stanland

25 November 2015

Callum Stanland, a committed Unite Community activist in the Yorkshire and Humberside area, sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this week at the age of 23.

Callum, who was diagnosed just under two years ago, showed a real passion for Unite Community.  He was key to many of the successes that have happened in our region.

During his treatment, Callum volunteered to help run the Unite Community Centre in Farsley, as well as attending demonstrations across the country.  No matter how Callum was feeling, he always put others first.

Earlier this year Callum spoke at a ‘Save the NHS’ rally in Leeds alongside Ed Miliband MP and Andy Burnham MP.  In recognition of his work, Callum received an award for his campaigning work.

Joe Rollin, former Unite Community Organiser for the NEYH Region, said “I met Callum very soon after we launched Unite Community in the NEY&H in September 2012.  He was one of the founding members of the Leeds Unite Community Branch. Callum was a student at the time but was keen to be involved in a wide range of campaigns not just student politics.  Callum had a very deep understanding of class politics and worked tirelessly in the fight for a fairer more equal society. It’s so sad that he has passed away at such a young age.  I watched him grow in confidence over the short time I knew him.  My thoughts are with his family and friends”

The impact that Callum had on so many people has been clear since he lost his battle, with hundreds of tributes from friends, fellow trade unionists and politicians.  Karen Reay, Unite regional secretary said “Callum was passionate about our union and our members, and we are all better for knowing him.  His commitment and enthusiasm was always present and lifted all those around him. It is so sad that he has died so young, before we could have witnessed his full potential as a trade unionist and political voice.  I have no doubt that Callum would have had a future within our movement, within Unite.  My thoughts today are for his family and his many friends in Unite the Union”.

Remembering Callum’s sense of humour, Gerry Lavery from Leeds Unite Community Branch said “I first got to know Callum when he volunteered at the Unite Community Support Centre at Farsley in February 2014 and then through various other Unite Community activities.

Callum was easy to work with and had a kind, gentle manner. Behind his quiet appearance was a bright and thoughtful person with a political and intellectual curiosity, which he was keen to use to develop his political ideas and activities.

Importantly, he had a great sense of humour, laughing at many things, including the absurdities and contradictions of the then Coalition government. 

He often joked about how he might use his illness to acquire more resources for the community support centre. He once jokingly suggested that if he coughed in front of Karen, the Unite regional secretary – who had a real soft spot for him – and asked for a photocopier, then he was pretty sure we’d get one. A few days after this incident we were duly offered a photocopier by the Unite office. It may be have been coincidence, but it remained a source of constant amusement.

Callum was a bright and rising star and it’s hard to make sense of his death at such a young age. I console myself with the thought that he touched us all with his socialist commitment and his considerable qualities and that none of these will be easily forgotten. His passing is an immense loss to his family, friends and colleagues”.

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