THE sudden death of one of the most respected and popular council workers in Pendle has had a major impact on Nelson Town Hall.
Mr Geoff Yates, who has worked in local government for 42 years, has died aged 58 after collapsing on Saturday morning.
He leaves his wife Edwina - they have been married for 32 years since they met while she worked for the council - and their sons, Neil and Mark. Neil works for the council and Mark is an electrician.
Along with Geoff’s family, Pendle Council staff and councillors, and many other people who knew him, are mourning the sad loss.
He was a very well-liked member of staff who will be missed by many. He has been ill since April, following semi-retirement from the council when he started working three days a week.
Born in Nelson, Geoff attended Lomeshaye Primary School and then went to Nelson Grammar School in 1964. After completing his O-levels, he started working for Nelson Borough Council in 1969 as a trainee committee clerk. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, he began working for Pendle Council, and became a committee clerk in 1975. By 1980, he was a senior committee clerk and became principal committee clerk in 1986.
Geoff was a sports fan, particularly of cricket, and was also a supporter of Burnley FC. He enjoyed walking and reading and was very much a local historian. He had a great knowledge of Nelson and collected old photohs and postcards of the area. He has also taken large numbers of photos of buildings about to be demolished, and their replacements. And he was an expert on civic memorabilia.
He had been a member of the Nelson Poultry Club since he was 18 and played cricket for the club in the 1980s.
Each working day, he walked to the town hall from his home in Warwick Drive, Brierfield, then returned on foot for lunch, and finally returned home by walking uphill at the end of the day. He usually had headphones on and listened to cricket matches, comedy tapes or music.
Geoff will be remembered for putting a smile on people’s faces - he often sent a joke out with minutes from meetings. He also tended to take “emergency pies” to meetings!
Mrs Yates said: “Since April, he wasn’t well. In hospital, he was desperately ill and would never have recovered. But 58 years of his life had all been good. He was a man of simple pleasures, and enjoyed sport and holidays. His conscientiousness was everything to him. He was 100% reliable.
“He hated anyone being racist and couldn’t stand any sort of prejudice. He never did anything he didn’t like doing. He always looked at the positives.”
Mr Stephen Barnes, Pendle Council’s chief executive, said: “This is shocking and tragic news. Geoff was one of the longest serving officers of the council and just three months away from retirement. He began his career with Nelson Council as junior clerk and has been at the centre of committee administration in Pendle Council for many, many years.
“Always helpful and friendly, with a deep knowledge of local history and a keen cricket and football fan, he will be sorely missed by councillors and officers alike.”
Mr Abdullah Zaid, chairman of Pendle Kashmir Welfare Association, said: “The sudden death of Geoff has sadden everyone in and outside the council and the Kashmiri community, living in UK in general but in Pendle particularly, has lost a best friend. We are indebted to the work he has done on Kashmir Working Group since 1996.”
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. a celebration of his life will take place at Burnley Crematorium, followed by a get-together at the Nelson Poultry Club. Friends and colleagues are invited to attend.