It is with great sadness that we report the passing away of our comrade, Pete Whitwell, at the age of 81 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Pete’s working life began at the age of 14 when he was thrown into the deep end battling his way through snow on his first day as a telegraph boy.
He stayed with the Post Office throughout his life and became known for his great skill and sticking up for his mates on the job.
He also saw two years national service which he tolerated but would never have volunteered for.
Pete joined the SWP along with his brother, Ken, in 1991. Along with George Pogmore, his brother Ken and Marilyn, he became central to building the Acomb branch, one of four in York at the time.
Pete, George, Ken and Marilyn became known as the Bishopthorpe Bolsheviks, a village where they would frequent the pubs and invariably sell a good number of Socialist Workers.
Pete would hold the attention of his listeners for hours. He was always on the Socialist Worker sale in Acomb and continued to have a Socialist Worker round right up to his passing away.
Pete’s passion was the NHS and despite his mild manners he would get into a positive rage about cuts and privatisation to the service.
Appropriately in his last months he received fantastic care from the NHS and all who worked for it.
But he also had a great sense of humour. There was nothing he loved more than being at Marxism, when he could attend, and singing a socialist version of the “Eton Boating Song” in the bars late in the evening—he knew how to down a pint!
Although he would never consider himself as such, Pete was a courageous fighter and was in the thick of things at the demonstration against the British National Party in Welling.
Pete was also incredibly generous in his donations to the Socialist Worker fighting fund. He loved the paper and still managed a smile shortly before his death when we told him about a good Saturday sale in York.
Above all Pete was a deeply kind, gentle and humorous human being.
While being fiercely self-critical he always saw the best in others, earning their respect as he did so.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew him over the years but he will also continue to inspire us to carry on the fight and above all to sell and give to Socialist Worker.
Our thoughts and solidarity are with his brother Ken and partner Marilyn.
Pete’s funeral will be at St Chads Church, Campleshon Road, York at 10.30am on Wednesday 22 January, followed by a burial at Fulford Cemetery at 11.30am.
There will be a celebration of his life at the Winning Post pub on Bishopthorpe Road from 11.15am.