On 22 November 2017, Birmingham Clarion Singers had the great honour of singing at the funeral of Derek Robinson.
A great day with stirring speeches from friends, family and comrades. An incredible figure in our history, who dedicated his life to his fellow worker, as well as his family and friends. In an obituary for the Morning Star, Graham Stevenson notes Derek ” followed the activities of Birmingham’s Clarion Choir with fondness.” (Morning Star 22 November 2017)
In his speech at the funeral, Rob Griffiths, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, said “Derek Robinson was a giant of the labour movement. He was proud of his party – and his party will forever be proud of him.” quoting Nikolai Ostrovski, he went on to say, “”Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world—the fight for the liberation of mankind”. ( 21 Century Manifesto)
Other speeches and contributions were made by Howard Beckett, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, Dave Osborne, friend and union colleague, and his niece,Elaine Wilson. Clarion led those assembled in “Power in the Union” and two verses of “The Internationale”. The whole service and wake was arranged with great style and conviction by his daughter, Steph Robinson.
We were privileged to know such an important figure in 20th century union history. And we will not forget the giant of a man with a twinkle in his eye.