Robert Stephenson died suddenly at home last week. He joined the SWP in the 1970s while at Swansea university and then trained to be a teacher at Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside. He organised an occupation of Kendal council over cuts in 1976.
He returned to his home town of Wigan, married Christine, and went to work at RW Carr. As a shop steward, Rob helped organise engineering strikes at the end of the 1970s and Right to Work protests.
In 1982 he trained as a physiotherapist and worked in the health service in Merseyside and Manchester. He was very caring and supportive of his patients.
Rob was well known in the community and was at his best leading local campaigns.
He will be particularly remembered for the part he played in the successful Makerfield Against Development campaign.
As well as a commitment to environmental politics Rob was recently involved in building a local Unite Against Fascism group.
As a member of Wigan Stop the War, Rob demonstrated a talent for chairing meetings. No one will forget the skill with which he chaired a debate between Andy Burnham MP and an anti-war Vietnam veteran.
Rob loved karate. He often told the story of how when the Nazi National Front attacked a paper sale in Liverpool he knocked them out. He tried to encourage the rest of Wigan SWP to take up martial arts, leading to interesting debates.
Rob was late for every paper sale, meeting, lobby and demo, but he was always there.
He never stopped believing that the working class could change the world. He made a lifelong commitment to the struggle for socialism.
We were all pleased that he lived long enough to see a new wave of student struggle.
He will be sadly missed by his friends, his comrades in Wigan SWP and his former wife Christine.
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