ASMS National Direct - Farewell, Helen Kelly
We are greatly saddened to hear of the death of Helen Kelly, former Council of Trade Unions leader and a determined advocate for improving the lives of working New Zealanders. During her eight years as CTU President she was always supportive of ASMS activities and initiatives.
Many of you will recall that Helen addressed the ASMS Annual Conference last year and spoke eloquently and passionately about the role of unions as public institutions which do valuable work and in turn need to be valued. Her speech made a lasting impression on delegates and she received a standing ovation.
She was, as many of you know, the partner of ASMS Industrial Officer Steve Hurring, and our thoughts now are with Steve and the other members of Helen’s family.
She is also a good friend of many national office staff. Particular reference should be made to Senior Industrial Officer Henry Stubbs who has been a close family friend for many years, including having a special friendship with Helen’s father. Further, she was an excellent colleague for me to ‘chew the fat’ with.
In a media release from ASMS, we have described Helen as a compassionate warrior who fought for the rights of ordinary people.
Her death is an enormous loss both to the union movement she led so effectively and also to the many people she helped by campaigning to make people’s working lives fairer, safer and better paid. For those who worked with her, and those close to her, she was known as a determined, generous and kind person who remained, until the end, a strong voice for change.
Thank you for the emails we have received from members to express your condolences, and these are being passed onto Helen’s family. One member wrote: “She’s my NZer of the century” and another person told us about a friend with epilepsy who had benefitted from Helen’s own experiences with pain relief.
It is a tribute to Helen that, especially in her final days, the families of forestry workers who had lost their lives and Pike River mine families spent special time with her.
Earlier this morning I had an informal meeting with the Director-General of Health Chai Chuah, who had engaged with Helen over the years. He commented on how impressed he was with her ability, commitment and integrity. I have also received a touching email from the Ministry of Health, aware of our connection with Helen, expressing their sincere condolences.
The Council of Trade Unions media release can be read at http://union.org.nz/news/2016/working-people-mourn-helen-kelly-%E2%80%93-statement-ctu-president-richard-wagstaff
The Tertiary Education Union media release: http://teu.ac.nz/2016/10/helen-kelly/
And this article on the New Zealand Herald website: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11728852
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists