Obituary: Alf Atkinson
Comrade Alf Atkinson died aged 80 at his home in Shrewsbury on 21 December last year. Most members will remember Alf from the period he served on the EC and as the Party’s General Secretary. But in fact most of Alf’s political activities took place in the Manchester area after the Second World War.
Alf joined the Socialist Party in 1946, influenced by his older brother Walter, after both of them had been open-air speakers for the Secular Society. He soon took to the Party’s outdoor platform in central Manchester and combined his talents as an outdoor speaker and indoor lecturer with his outstanding abilities as an organiser, working tirelessly for the Party in what were, at times, relatively lean years.
In the late 1960s Alf was instrumental in the reformation of Manchester Branch. The next few years, during which he was branch secretary and organiser, became a particularly successful period for Manchester Branch. In the early 1970s his unstinting work in the North-West led directly to the formation of branches in Bolton, Liverpool and Lancaster. Always generous with support and guidance, his advice was frequently sought by members in the area.
On moving to East Grinstead, his hard work and attendance at meetings continued. He joined Guildford Branch and later helped to form Croydon Branch. Around this time Alf was elected to the Party’s Executive Committee and when the post of General Secretary suddenly fell vacant in 1981 he stepped in to take over. He was then re-elected in subsequent years. All of Alf’s talents were put to good use and he proved a most effective and popular General Secretary.
His interests in life included astronomy, anthropology and history. He loved poetry and would often recite favourite verses. He was also a keen gardener and wine-maker.
Alf’s funeral was held in Shrewsbury, attended by family, friends and comrades. A moving final tribute was given by Comrade Ron Cook. Our sympathies go to his widow, Margaret Hopwood, and children Owen and Adele, all members of the Party.
Alf Atkinson’s contribution will spread over many years. His enthusiasm and hard work was reflected in the number of members drawn to the Party and the number of branches that flourished around him. The Socialist Party has lost a dedicated, staunch and active member and a unique human being.