Tributes paid to Midlothian union leader

Tributes have been paid to Ron Curran, a former Midlothian trade union leader, who sadly passed away recently at the age of 94.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:22 pm
Former trade union leader Ron Curran, who has sadly passed away aged 94. Photo supplied by Danielle Rowley.

Ron was the Scottish National Officer of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE ) when the Scottish Labour and Trade Union movement swung behind its campaign for the National Minimum Wage in 1984. Foothold established, it soon became Labour and TUC policy also.

Ron started work aged 16, as a blacksmith at the Rising Sun Colliery, Wallsend. His family hailed from an Ayrshire coalfield where his dad started work as a trapper boy aged 9. After 25 years, and the closure of the Rising Sun, he spent two years as a mature student at Newbattle Abbey College (where he subsequently became a Governor) in Midlothian – an area close to his heart, where he was also involved in local art clubs.

He died on June 10, and his funeral was held on June 29 at Tyneside Crematorium in North Shields.

An old photo of Ron during his time in the trade union. Photo supplied by Danielle Rowley.

Former colleagues Bill Gilby and Bob Thomson told the Advertiser more about Ron’s life. Bill said: “For Ron, being a trade union official was not a job but a vocation, a mission to improve the lives and opportunities of working people and their families. He saw no difference between full-time officials, lay officials and members - working for the union was a privilege, which had to be exercised with diligence and integrity.”

Speaking about Ron’s personal life, Bob added: “He was good company and enjoyed a pint. An avid reader, he wrote two books, one on his time working at the Rising Sun Colliery, the other a biography of Pete Curran.

"His real passion was drawing and painting at which he excelled, including a painting of the Peterloo Massacre. In retirement he had exhibitions and taught drawing in a local community centre.

"His wife Doreen was his rock and he was proud of his daughter Maureen’s involvement in the Labour Party, (both of whom predeceased him). He was equally proud of his granddaughter Danielle who became a Labour MP for Midlothian.

"Ron will be remembered by his other daughter Susan, son John, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, as well as his extended family and the many friends he made over the years.”