22 July 2021

Tribute to John Collinson

DWP North East region were given sad news that their colleague and PCS representative John Collison had passed away on 4 June. Durham branch secretary Judith Leighton pays tribute to John on behalf of the region.

John Collinson was a life-long socialist who had been involved in the labour movement in some shape or form throughout his life.

John worked in several offices within the North East, both in HMRC and in DWP offices in Seaham, Tyne View Park (TVP) and Sunderland.

On joining DWP at Seaham pension centre he soon became involved in PCS, reaching the position of branch secretary of PCS DWP Durham County Branch.

Apart from fighting many personal cases, John will mainly be remembered for leading the Seaham Christmas leave dispute, where an overwhelming majority of members chose to support industrial action on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Colleagues have expressed how they looked forward to team nights out with John. His humour was in a league of its own, making him the person people loved to have a conversation with. He often spoke fondly of his long-time friend Charlie McDonald, telling reps we had to meet him.

John went on to work at TVP in Newcastle where he made numerous friends. John and colleagues were at an event and were likened to the gentlemen from Last of the Summer Wine. 

John finally moved to Wear View House in Sunderland and took up the position of branch organiser.

Being part of PCS was instrumental to John. He would help where and when he could. He had many stories to tell, yet he always came back to why a person should join a union. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were nearly always mentioned in conversation with John.

Not many people would know this, but John was a very talented musician and played guitar in a band called Patrick. They would regularly support New Model Army when they came to the North East. Please take a moment to search online for the song Lies of Warriors (https://youtu.be/-Y2kAe7_xEE) played by Patrick.

John was a real family man. He leaves behind his two children, of whom he was so proud. He would talk about his children and his beautiful wife with the greatest love. Those who really knew John would recall that he always said he was “punching above”, and his love for his wife truly shone through.

John was proud to take his family on the austerity marches in London. They all had PCS flags in one hand and vuvuzela in the other hand. This allowed John to show his then young children what austerity meant to so many people. He encouraged his children to do what makes them happy in their life. Their daughter is involved in a wonderful project in Amsterdam, making a real difference in the world, like her dad. Their son is in his final year at university and will graduate this year.

Reps, colleagues and PCS officials from the Northern region were proud to say goodbye to John with the PCS Northern Region banner. A fitting tribute to an outstanding man.

Thank you to all colleagues and branches who have sent messages of support. These will be passed on to the family.

Judith Leighton
DWP Durham Branch Secretary

Source URL: https://www.pcs.org.uk/news-events/news/tribute-john-collinson