LEADING figures in Tameside have paid tribute following the death of Lord Pendry.
Tom, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde for 31 years from 1970 until 2001, was in position when the very borough was created in 1974.
And after the sad news was confirmed on Monday, February 27 that he had passed away the night before at the age of 88, fond memories of his work and achievements were given.
Still working in the House of Lords, Lord Pendry was as recently as February 8 pressing on current issues.
He asked whether the Government has plans they have to provide support to pubs deemed “at risk” by the Campaign for Real Ale given increased energy costs, rising food prices, and consequently suppressed consumer demand.
And he told The Correspondent about his pride in representing his constituency.
He said: “I can still remember standing at the count in Hyde Town Hall and being declared the winner – the fulfilment of a boyhood ambition.
“I had a small majority of 2,000 and it was 15,000 when I retired so I must have done something right.
“I have been proud to be their representative and have great affection of the people of the area. I also owe them so much.”
Current Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds remembered how Lord Pendry taught him that being a strong MP is not just about how you vote in Westminster, it is about being a visible champion for communities.
He said: “A highly popular Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde from 1970 to 2001, and continued servant of our communities since, Lord Pendry will be missed by many.
“He was extremely proud to have served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under Jim Callaghan – and would often tell me he was responsible for talent-spotting Tony Blair.
“His passion was sport, especially boxing and football, great loves deepened during his national service with the Royal Air Force.
“His service as President of the Football Foundation saw him campaigning for better facilities for community soccer throughout his time in the Lords.
“My deepest condolences go to his children Fiona and Dominic, and his grandchildren.”
Born in Broadstairs, Kent in 1934, Lord Pendry’s contributions to the area saw him given the honorary title of Lord Mottram of Longdendale to mark 25 years as MP.
In Stalybridge, he is honoured by the area in front of the Civic Hall being named Lord Pendry Square and Stalybridge Celtic having The Lord Tom Pendry Stand.
After working as a trade union officer for the National Union of Public Employees and as an engineer, he was elected as a councillor for London’s former Paddington Borough Councillor between 1962 and 1965.
He was elected as MP in 1970, replacing Fred Blackburn before being himself succeeded by James Purnell.
During his time in the House of Commons, he served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
He also led the first anti-apartheid demonstration at a cricket match of an all-white South African side and head up the successful fight to keep sport on BBC Radio 5.
Well-known within the Labour Party as ‘the best Sports Minister we never had’, he once dislocated his own shoulder showing Muhammad Ali how to punch, almost knocking out the world heavyweight champion’s wife in the process.
In 2016, Lord Pendry released his autobiography, Taking It On The Chin: Memoirs of a Parliamentary Bruiser.
He described his mother Elizabeth – a member of the Independent Labour Party before its reinvention – as his inspiration.
And his interest in politics intensified during World War II, when he was evacuated from Broadstairs, Kent, to Blaydon-on-Tyne in the north east.
As a boy, he recalled sitting at the feet of Durham miners at Labour meetings.
Current Tameside councillor Sam Gosling, shared his memories of Lord Pendry.
He added: “I will never forget the level of support and kindness he showed me when I became a councillor and when I took over the management of the Labour Club.”
Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, said: “I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Lord Pendry who will be remembered for serving the communities of Stalybridge and Hyde, not just as their MP from 1970 to 2001, but also in the years that followed. He was so proud to be made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Tameside in 1995.
Tameside Council named part of the street in front of Stalybridge’s old market hall ‘Lord Pendry Square’ and fans at Stalybridge Celtic can sit in The Lord Tom Pendry Stand – a true testament to how respected he was in the area he served.
“Lord Pendry was incredibly passionate about sport and was delighted to be appointed President of the Football Foundation in February 2003, a role he used to fight for better facilities for community sport during his time in the Lords.
“He will be missed by so many and my deepest condolences are with his family and friends at this very sad time.”
Andrew Gwynne MP for Denton and Reddish said:
“Lord Pendry served as a Member of Parliament for over 30 years representing Stalybridge and Hyde, which included Dukinfield until 1997, when due to boundary reviews it transferred into my own constituency of Denton and Reddish.
“Passionate about sport, he served as the President of the Football Foundation, and was recognised as an honorary freeman of the borough.
“I wish to extend my profound condolences to Lord Pendry’s family following his passing.”