Everyone who was active in the AUT/UCU at Bristol University knew Celia, it would be hard not to have been familiar with her presence at meetings and demonstrations, she could always be counted on to be the first to turn up at a picket line, first to speak out at meetings, clearly articulating her views and her totally committed socialist opinions, never wavering in her dedication to a cause, the cause, in which she believed so passionately, and to which she adhered when many others fell away.
No doubt some members, who only knew her from her public pronouncements, found her views tiresome in their predictability but others, especially her departmental colleagues, knew of her tireless and extraordinarily kind support to anyone who found themselves in difficulty at work. She understood how some work cultures could oppress those who found themselves sidelined or marginalised at work, and in many cases worked to help her colleagues maintain their positions and could succeed in preventing unfair dismissals when that was threatened. When, despite her best efforts, staff were forced to resign, or in worst cases, be dismissed, she remained at their side, a friend and comforter. She could be ferociously angry with anyone in positions of authority, including union officers, but she never lost patience with her ‘cases’, seeking to help and empathise.
During the period in which I was active in the union, including my two terms as President, Celia never put herself forward for election to the committee, or any office, I suspect she would have found holding office a betrayal of her principles, though this was never stated. The nature of her death has horrified all her knew her, it is difficult not to read it as more suited to a Greek tragedy, than the post-retirement activities of someone who had developed a passion for Greece and its history. May she rest in peace.
Liz Bird, Past President, Bristol UCU