Ken Parkin RIP

Ken Parkin leading his fellow workers during the Sacked Ambulancemen dispute of 1991

Ken Parkin was a Sedgemoor District Councillor and a Bridgwater Councillor from 1991 until 1999 and  Mayor in 1996-97.He was also a Trades Unionist and led the Ambulance workers through several industrial actions in Bridgwater in the early 1990s. He was a speaker at the Mass anti-poll tax rally at Bridgwater Town Hall in 1990. Born in Bristol he was 84 when he died.

A Labour councillor for the Bridgwater Central ward elected for 2 terms he was also part of the Labour-Libdem administration which wrested control from the Tories from 1996-99.

Trades Council Secretary Dave Chapple  said “Bridgwater TUC expresses its sadness at the confirmation of the death last June in Doncaster of former TGWU Somerset Ambulance Convenor Ken Parkin. Whilst never a trades council activist, Ken was fully involved in local and national ambulance disputes in the early 1990’s, including the Bridgwater TUC/Somerset Community Defence Campaign struggle to re-instate two sacked ambulancemen, Mike Wallburton of NUPE and Tony Stokes of the TGWU. Both men were eventually offered re-engagement by the ambulance service, with Tony going on to become “Ambulance worker of the year” some time later. “

Ken lived in Friarn st Bridgwater before moving to Weston Zoyland and then to Yorkshire.

He developed Alzheimers disease and was moved to Oldfield House Care Home in Stainforth, Doncaster, where he died on  16 June 2018.  He was cremated at Rose Hill Crematorium  on  10 July 2018.


Ken during his year as Mayor welcoming Czech students to the town hall

During his year as Mayor he visited in fact all the (13) Bridgewaters in the USA and there is a web  interview with him in the Suffolk Sun (a Virginia Newspaper)

DATE: Sunday, April 20, 1997                TAG: 9704180231




He talks, talks, talks, pauses long enough to say: “I’m talking too much, aren’t I?” Then he talks, some more.

The delightful, non-stop speaker is Ken Parkin, 63, mayor of Bridgwater, Somerset, England.

“Normally, I’m called `Your Worship,’ ” he said, “but you can call me Ken.”

Parkin his wife, Ann, lunched with Suffolk Mayor Tom Underwood, City Manager, Myles Standish, and others on April 8.

The mayors discussed politics, taxes, beer, and John Wayne.

Parkin collects The Duke’s movies. “I have nearly every film he ever made, and some memorabilia,” he said. “The day before we took off for this trip I watched `Flying Leathernecks.’ ”

Without a blink, Underwood jumped right in with, “Robert Ryan was in that movie.”

The mayors exchanged city pins and gifts. Parkin was given a basket of peanuts and local memorabilia, Underwood was presented a Bridgwater plate.

And, the inevitable resolution welcomed the English mayor to the Peanut City.

He left Bridgwater – “the only town with that name in England or the United States without an `e’ in the middle,” he noted – to spend a week with his sister, Annie Harless, and nephew, Kenneth Creamer, both of Suffolk.

Harless’s brother and sister-in-law, the mayor and mayoress – that is her official title – stayed in Suffolk for a week.“I want to stay for the balloon fest,” he said. “Challenge me for a ride and I’ll go up for a pint of beer at the end.”

Speaking of which, the mayors spent several minutes agreeing on the qualities of the brews of Britain and the Colonies.

Ken with SDCs only Labour Chairman Sandy Buchanan

But, they had more than beer and ale in common. Both men served in Korea – Underwood with the Navy, Parkin with the Black Watch. Parkin is an active member of the British Legion, comparable to the American Legion.

The men compared mayoral duties, deciding that mayors in this country deal with more political sticky wickets than their English counterparts.

There was another commonality – media treatment.

“We have no problems with the newspapers,” Parkin said. “If they misquote me, I say `What the hell you think you’re doing?’ Then, I have my say.”

When Parkin has something official to say, he wears a traditional 105-year-old bright red robe, replete with mink and sable.

Parkin is appointed for a year by the city council. His term is up May 8.

“Next month, I’ll become an alderman,” he said“I’ll do a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

“Right now, as mayor, I’m the queen’s representative,” Parkin said. “I met her twice. In 1986, she was the first royalty to visit our town. Last year, I was at a garden party at Buckingham Palace.”

Whither he goes, so goeth his spouse.

“Everything I do, officially, is done with my wife,” said Parkin, nodding toward the lovely, patient mayoress.

She is outgoing, but far more laid back than her husband.

It is the second marriage for both. Between them, they have seven children and 17 grandchildren.

Ann and Ken said “I do” and “I do” their vows in June.“We were the first couple to be wed in office in 529 years,” he said.

Ken Parkin

But every now and then, the mayoress gently tells the mayor to slow down, vocally, but she seems to realize that their newfound friends are interested in what he has to say.

The Parkins live in a 307-year-old cottage which, in 1690, served as a barracks for British troops.

The Parkin hometown is in southwestern England – “that’s the warmer part of England,” he notes – is history-rich.

“Our town, which has 42,000 people, dates back to 908,” Parkin said. For England, he said, that is relatively recent. “Cellophane was invented here in 1937. It’s still manufactured here.

“Somerset is an old, medieval market town,” he said. “Come to our town and have a good time.”

Parkin is a member of the Labor Party. “But, as mayor, I have to be middle-of-the-road.”

Otherwise, he is a man who expoesses strong opinion, which explains his work a union negotiator for the National Ambulance Service.

Parkin retired March 31 after 27 years as a full-time ambulance paramedic.

As part of Parkin’s tour of Syffolk, city cpoksewoman Dana Woodson took him to the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad.

Parkin and paramedic, Tony Stewart, developed an immediate rapport as they sat in the back of an ambulance for nearly an hour, comparing notes on the lifesaving business.

They talked about distances covered, equipment, and that both have to solicit the private sector for help.

“We both do the same job, but in a different way,” Parkin declared.

The men parted with a firm, mutual friendship handshake, the mayor leaving with a Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad decal sticker, that he promised would go on his car.

“Everybody here (in Suffolk) is so friendly, so nice,” Parkin said.

“When I get back home, I will be talking about how nice, how very wonderful everybody is. All the people I’ve met. . . ”

At that, the mayoress gave him a gentle nudge.

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