The sad news that George Brumwell had died suddenly this week prompted the same response in everyone – shock and sadness, of course, and an overwhelming expression of what a genuine and likeable man he was.

I have known George as a colleague and friend for a number of years. It may seem strange that I can claim him as a colleague when, as representative of the industry’s employers, I sat on the opposite side of the negotiating table. Yet, it is from that vantage point that I was able to form the greatest respect and admiration for a man who was genuine in his desire to represent the interests of his union members and sincere in his dealings with the employers.

Of course, we didn’t always see eye to eye – far from it. But we both had the same objectives – the betterment of our industry and those who work in it. Our approaches may have been different at times but our aims were always the same. His amiable character was complemented by a strength of resolve and purpose that encouraged a constructive and dynamic relationship and, crucially, brought results.

Whenever I arrived at an industry dinner and scanned the table plans my spirits would rise if I was seated near to George because I knew I would be in for an enjoyable and entertaining evening.

At industry dinners, my spirits rose if I was seated near to George

Stephen Ratcliffe

He was a towering figure in our industry and a true friend of all those who work in it. A leader of men, George demonstrated a genuine empathy for the people he represented and earned the respect of all those who worked with him.

In an era when spin and “being on message” have taken much of the colour out of public life, George was a vivid and vital contributor to our industry. He will be missed.