Socialist Worker

Andy Abel 1962-2009

by Dave Merrick, on behalf of Bristol South branch and Bristol district SWP
Issue No. 2165

It was with the deepest sadness and shock that the very many friends and comrades of Andy Abel learned of his sudden and untimely death of a heart attack.

Andy was in the sea while holidaying in Portugal with his deeply loved partner, Lorraine, when this awful incident took place.

Andy was a young, active and very fit person who thought nothing of cycling from Bristol to London, running half-marathons or camping on top of mountains.

Our shock was therefore greater when we heard this tragic news.

Most of all Andy will be fondly and proudly remembered by his comrades and friends for his energy and passion in pursuit of the political goals that we all hold dear.

He was a consummate activist, always at his very best whether it was in SWP activity, the anti-war and anti‑capitalist movements, or anti-fascist activity.

In fact Andy himself would rarely if at all make a distinction between any of the above.

Just prior to going on holiday, he reported to an anti-war public meeting that he had taken a card around his workplace for his workmates to sign a good luck message to a soldier who had refused any longer to fight in Afghanistan because the war was illegal. Such was his imagination and compassion.

For all of his commitment and centrality to the progressive social and political movements beyond our ranks, Andy was a committed party-builder.

His comrades could never figure out how he sold so many papers, while seemingly always being in deep and amiable conversation with anyone who crossed his path.

So many times he told us that, “There is no point talking to ourselves.” He was, and will always be, a shining example to us all.

Andy was a very widely-read person possessed of a brilliant intellect and a mercurial sense of humour.

All of his close friends and comrades benefited greatly from his wisdom and insight.

There was no greater pleasure than a serious discussion with Andy, whether it was about the finer points of Marxist theory, the latest novel that he had read, his passion for contemporary music of all genres, or sport of all kinds.

He was always at his funniest when lampooning the latest antics of the powerful and privileged. Laughter was a central part of his life. You couldn’t be with him and not join in.

His humanity and compassion was carried through into his working life.

He was a hugely experienced and highly respected counsellor in street level drugs projects for many years, until he chose to build on this experience and qualify as a psychiatric nurse through the Open University.

Andy will also be sorely missed by his working colleagues and by the many service users that he helped in his work.

In addition, he found time to be a committed Unison union workplace representative and was a tireless advocate for his colleagues.

He often represented them within the workplace in disciplinary hearings with consummate skill and commitment.

Andy was also a keen sportsperson. He loved running, cycling and football, and was a passionate supporter of West Bromwich Albion—“the Baggies” or “the Albion” as he would call them.

He was a great cook and a serious gardener. If you invited him round for a meal his own fresh garden produce would inevitably be part of the feast.

Andy and his partner, Lorraine, were virtually inseparable and their love for each other was a great joy and comfort to them both.

Our heart goes out to Lorraine, and to Andy and Lorraine’s family and friends.

We have all been privileged to know you and to work with you Andy. We will all miss you so much.

The funeral for Andy took place in Portugal on Friday 7 August, attended by his immediate family and close friends.

It was a fitting and very moving occasion, with tributes, stories and music. Lorraine led the singing of “The Internationale”.

On 3 October there will be a memorial and celebration of Andy’s life. This will take place at St Werburghs Community Centre, Horley Road, Bristol, BS2 9TJ.

Article information

Tue 18 Aug 2009, 17:47 BST
Issue No. 2165
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