Obituary - Kenneth Cameron,
1942 - 2016
TRIBUTES have been paid to the ‘greatest union leader of his generation’ from Fort William who has died, aged 74.
Kenneth Cameron, who was the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and perhaps best known for playing a key background role in the miners’ strike of 1984/85, further he received the Freedom of the Burgh on Fort William by Lochaber Council in 2000.
Kenneth, known as Ken, was the eldest son of the late, Kenny ‘Friend’ Cameron and Eileen Cameron, and older brother to Donald ‘Skeegan’ Cameron, the former Highland Councillor for Fort William. His late mother, Eileen came from Ireland, and he credited her for giving him his firebrand fighting spirit.
In his early career, Ken spent a short but tumultuous time as a reporter on the Aberdeen Press and Journal. He served a brief stint as a policeman in the Highlands before finding his feet in the fire service.
Another of Ken’s achieve- ments was becoming first general secretary to bring a pro-Palestine motion at the Trades Union Congress in 1982, and also made Mr Mandela an honourary member of the FBU in 1990. Mr Cameron made such an impression that Mandela wrote to him on his retirement via telegram.
Alan McLean, FBU president, said: ‘Ken was a humble man, small in stature but who walked with giants, counting Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela as friends and comrades. Ken will be mourned not only by our movement but by workers all over the world.’
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC said Ken would never let a tough situation hinder him getting a laugh. He added: ‘Ken was one of the greatest union leaders of his generation.
‘When the going got tough, Ken was the kind of man you’d want by your side. Determined but always with a kindly twinkle in his eye, Ken could find humour in the most unpromising of circumstances.’
Ken retired to Glasgow but was a regular visitor to family and friends in Fort William, especially for Camanachd Cup Shinty Finals which his brother Donald says is one of the stories which he finds most entertaining.
Donald continued: ‘ Ken never forgot his roots. He was very fond of Fort William and was bursting with pride after the shinty final in 1992. People might not know this but Ken actually had an engagement down south to attend after the final where he got chatting to some Italian guests, he relived the whole match for them and told them they weren’t the only sporting champions. Only Ken could get away with things like that and still make friends.’
Ken passed away on Monday 16th May after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Nola and his two adult children, from his first marriage and his grandchildren. His funeral took place on Tuesday (31st May) at Linn Crematorium.
Ken Cameron remembered for his achievements and for his humour