Remembering Chris Bartter

Chris was a long standing colleague and his death at the end of last October came as a great shock. I sent the following appreciation of his life  to the editor of The Journalist (the NUJ magazine) in early January for possible publication in the next issue of our magazine. My thanks to colleagues who assisted in this appreciation.Chris Bartter, socialist, journalist, trade unionist and campaigner, died on 28 October aged 64 from a heart attack. Always larger than life, I first met Chris in the 1980’s when I was a publicity field organiser for the public service union Nalgo (now UNISON) and he was a lay publicity activist and campaigner in Scotland.

Scotland was his adopted home. Chris was born in North London and then moved to Dorking in Surrey before moving on to Glasgow to study at Strathclyde University. In 1975 he went to work at the Mitchell Library, now one of Europe’s largest public libraries. There he joined Nalgo and met his partner Doreen Keen.

Chris moved from being a leading publicity and campaigning activist to become the union’s first full-time Scottish communications organiser, where he inspired and trained may lay activists in both publicity and campaigning skills. He also had great organising skills, chairing the 7.84 theatre company, building Glasgow’s May Day as a city-wide trade union festival and, following his retirement from UNISON, helping launch the Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation and the Havana-Glasgow Film Festival.

Chris was a regular contributor to the cultural pages of the Morning Star and his blog, Grumping with the Captain had a big internet following. He was also a tireless campaigner for the Scottish Freedom of Information Campaign. But it was not a solo act, Doreen, who survives him, was also his partner in his political and campaigning work.

Chris had a great sense of humour as well as kindness. He is sorely missed not only by his army of friends but by all who came into contact with him, many of whom turned out to his funeral in Glasgow on 13 November.

But the greatest loss will be felt by his partner Doreen and his sister Vanessa. His life has been an inspiration for the many, and he will live on in our hearts and minds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>