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Obituary - John Hayes
John Hayes flying the Socialist Party banner at the 2013 Tolpuddle Festival, photo by Matt Carey (Click to enlarge)
Socialist Party members are still reeling at the news of John Hayes' sudden death after falling from scaffolding outside his home. This committed socialist became a supporter of the Socialist Party's predecessor Militant in 1980. John never wavered in his desire to popularise the ideas of Marxism in his community and among his workmates.
He and I often travelled around his beloved Dorset, running impromptu stalls, recruiting members, organising meetings, then visiting a local beauty spot and a pub or two! Only months ago, after a successful stall, we journeyed to Maiden Castle's Iron Age hilltop settlement where John talked enthusiastically about the day when the Red Flag would fly there.
During a varied career John worked in the building industry, as a carer in a home with damaged young people and latterly as a driver for Dorset ambulance service. Almost fatally electrocuted while working for Southern Electric in the 1980s, he recovered from terrible burns to successfully prosecute the company for negligence. Typically, our fighting fund benefitted from much of his compensation.
After this accident, he became a student, securing an impressive degree in historical architecture. Like many other working class people who, given the chance, he displayed hitherto untapped talents.
He became interested in the preservation of historical buildings, taking me to many churches where his knowledge amazed even vicars, who peeped out of their vestries to hear him detailing their buildings' real history and the role of humble masons, carpenters and glass workers in constructing them.
In Dorset, sometimes finding a meeting venue was hard. Once I was interrupted in mid-flow by a pub landlord who threatened to throw us out for 'sedition'. John claimed we were the society for preserving the myth of the Black Dog of Wimborne. The nonplussed landlord let us stay, while my subsequent speech had far too many canine references.
His family and all who knew him find John's death hard to come to terms with. Adversity never deterred him and his sunny outlook always made you raise your game. He held our banner strongly, marched forward with his class unerringly and retained his complete belief in socialism faithfully. We mourn and salute you.
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