Bench to honour pensions campaigner

Bench to honour pensions campaigner

John Brooks, pictured in 2007

District councillor Richard Langridge discusses possible sites for the memorial bench with Rosemary Brooks, the widow of Early’s campaigner John Brooks. Picture: OX56687 Richard Cave

David Cameron's letter of condolence

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A MEMORIAL bench will be created in honour of a man Prime Minister David Cameron called “a modern British hero”.

Victor John Brooks, known as John, successfully campaigned to get a company pension for himself and 126 other former employees of Early’s blanket factory in Witney.

When Early’s, founded in 1669, collapsed in 2002 after 333 years of trading, workers received letters telling them the £4m invested in the pension fund might not be enough to pay their pensions in full.

But, after a four-year campaign lobbying the Government, the scheme’s trustees and Witney MP Mr Cameron, Mr Brooks finally won the battle for 127 pensioners to get payments. So far £650,000 has been paid out.

Mr Brooks passed away on August 12 last year aged 73, after a look fight against leukaemia.

Now West Oxfordshire District Council has decided to honour him with a memorial bench in Witney where he lived with his wife Rosemary and their children Andrew, now 51, and Angela, 46.

David Cameron

He worked tirelessly to help ensure that former workers of the Early blanket factory received a very large part of their pension entitlement

The Prime Minister said: “John Brooks was an amazing man who fought hard and diligently on behalf of local people.

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“He worked tirelessly to help ensure that former workers of the Early blanket factory received a very large part of their pension entitlement.

“It is fitting that his work in the community be acknowledged in this way.”

Mrs Brooks, 74, said the decision brought tears to her eyes.

She added: “It is just a shame that John is not alive to know what people really thought of him.”

Mr Brooks’ former co-worker John Parrott, 70, of Ducklington, said: “He deserves it for all the hard work he did for our pensions.”

In October 2007, David Cameron called Mr Brooks “a modern British hero I am proud of”.

When he heard of Mr Brooks’ death last year, the prime minister sent a letter to Mrs Brooks offering his condolences.

The district council is still deciding when and where the bench, which is expected to cost about £500, will be installed.

DAVID CAMERON'S TRIBUTE LETTER

"Dear Rosemary, I was greatly saddened to hear from your daughter Angela of John’s death.
Your husband was a man I much admired. He fought so hard and diligently to get money for the Early’s pensioners after that company went into liquidation in spite of his own ill health.
I know how much he contributed to Witney life and his loss will be felt by many people in the community.
I send you and your family my sincere sympathy.
(Handwritten) He was a really good man & he’ll be much missed.
With all my best wishes –
David"

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