Upbeat but poignant end to T&FS Conference

Telecoms & Financial Services

Delegates from across the Telecoms & Financial Services (T&FS) constituency ended Annual Conference week on a high – concluding two and a half days of charged debate and policy making with a poignant display of gratitude to outgoing CWU president and T&FS chair Beryl Shepherd.

After 8 years in the latter role, Beryl’s last stint as T&FS Conference chair was always going to be an emotional affair. With delegates buoyed up with a reinvigorated sense of unity after one of the most upbeat Bournemouth gathering in recent years, however, what could have been a sad farewell became instead a heartfelt celebration of a remarkable contribution to the CWU.

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr set the tone in his closing speech – highlighting the positive place the T&FS constituency is in as Beryl’s tenure as its chair draws to a close.

Stressing the CWU still stands to benefit from several more months of Beryl’s legendary commitment  – as she won’t actually be retiring until late July – Andy continued: “Beryl, I’m going to miss you more than people will ever know – but we’re going to be working together for a few more months yet, because anyone who knows Beryl will know that she’s not going to be walking out of this Conference and putting her feet up!

“She’ll be back at headquarters next week doing exactly the same work she’s always done, and I know she’ll be giving it her all until the very day she leaves the organisation.

“You’ve done a tremendous job for our union,” Andy told Beryl – stressing shel will be leaving the T&FS constituency in good shape to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

“We’ve had some really good debates and discussions this week, and I get the sense that the passion is coming back into everything we do,” Andy explained, concluding: “We can feel heartened leaving this Conference, because we’re absolutely united with regards to where we are going in the future.”

Addressing delegates for the last time, Beryl picked up on a similar theme – telling of  her delight that her final Conference had borne witness to scenes of jubilation amongst EE reps as the union’s hard-won recognition agreement with the BT-owned mobile giant was finally confirmed.

Voice cracking with emotion, Beryl stressed: “What better end, I suppose, could there have been for me than for us to have gained recognition in EE! To have seen the tears of joy those delegates shed, and just how important that this achievement was to them was just phenomenal – and I congratulate each and every one of them.

“It’s a great example of what this union and this constituency can do when everyone pulls in the same direction.”

Heartfelt tributes were paid to Beryl by Phil Thomas of the T&FS Conference standing orders committee who pointed out that Beryl has been an “integral component in putting together this Conference every year.”

Dave Mitchell of the North East Branch, meanwhile, told of “how glad we are to have Beryl as one of our members, and how proud we are that she has been the president of our union.”

The final word, however, went to T&FS Executive vice chair Karen Rose who, formally moved a vote of thanks to Beryl for her “superb” chairing of Conference.

“As always she’s been fabulous.” Karen concluded – and delegates unanimously agreed, giving Beryl a rapturous standing ovation to the soundtrack of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best.