Callum’s funeral: a sad but uplifting goodbye to a brave young activist.
Members of the Grimsby Labour Party were out in force at the funeral on December 16th of activist Callum Stanland, who sadly died (on November 24th) of a rare form of liver cancer at the age of 22. However, his importance was not just local: it was significant that union members from all over the country lined the road as the cortege drew up in front of the crematorium bearing banners from Leeds, Barnsley, Scotland and a variety of other locations linked with Callum’s work for the party. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn had sent a message to say: ‘Many people came to know Callum and be inspired by the energy of his community activism and campaigning work’. It is extraordinary to have left such a mark at such a young age.
Callum was educated at Wintringham Oasis academy and Franklin College, and older members remember with awe his efficient organisation, whilst still in his teens, of campaigning sessions. Here’s the view from a member in South Ward, where he grew up:
‘Callum joined South branch as a young member with extensive knowledge of Labour issues and it soon became clear that he was passionately committed to campaigning for a fairer society. He helped prepare campaign materials and worked tirelessly delivering and canvassing in support of Labour candidates standing for election. In his book, Election Day itself began at 5 am! He knocked on doors at weekends all year round when councillors ran roving surgeries. After falling ill, he still took part whenever he felt well enough. South branch activists liked and admired him enormously and will long miss his friendly nature and his contribution to their branch.’
Amongst many other campaigning achievements, Callum organised a local demonstration against the bedroom tax and spoke, whilst undergoing treatment, at a ‘Save the NHS’ rally alongside Andy Burnham. He received awards for campaigning from the ‘Unite’ union and here’s the view of Gerry Lavery from Leeds Unite Community branch:
‘Callum was easy to work with and had a kind, gentle manner. Behind his quiet appearance was a bright and thoughtful person with a political and intellectual curiosity, which he was keen to use to develop his political ideas and activities. Importantly, he had a great sense of humour, laughing at many things, including the absurdities and contradictions of the then Coalition government.’
The funeral reflected his interests and his spirit, with an inspiring address from MP for East Leeds, Richard Burgon, and the opportunity for us to sing Billy Bragg’s ‘There’s power in the union’ and ‘The Red Flag’. It was an appropriate and inspiring way to say goodbye to a young friend who will be sorely missed.
You can access pictures of the funeral here: