Obituary: Roy Stuttard, co-operator and educator

Roy Stuttard, whose life in the movement saw him go from Co-op dairy worker to historian, has died aged 83. Mr Stuttard, whose career saw him gain an MA...

Roy Stuttard, whose life in the movement saw him go from Co-op dairy worker to historian, has died aged 83.

Mr Stuttard, whose career saw him gain an MA and made Honorary Alderman of the City of Leicester, was born on 14th July 1933 in Bury, Lancashire, where his maternal grandfather was manager of the local Co-op shop and a member of the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers (NUDAW).

After moving to Leicester in 1958, Mr Stuttard himself became deeply involved in the movement. He worked for some years at the Co-op dairy and was a member of the board of the then-Leicester Co-operative Society. He was also an active member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).

After leaving the dairy he became a lecturer in further education but remained a life member of USDAW.

His wife, Pat, said: “The co-operative ideal meant a lot to him and he achieved a number of firsts to support this belief.”

These include his role as one of the 22 founders of the Highfields Credit Union – now the Clockwise Credit Union. He was also one of the first members of the Leicester Co-operative Development Agency.

And he was the first Labour and Co-operative councillor on Leicester City Council, having been a member of the Co-op Party a long time before joining the Labour Party.

A passionate historian, Mr Stuttard gained his first degree in economic history from Manchester University in 1955. In 1989, he was among the first eight students to be enrolled on a part-time MA course in English local history at Leicester University.

Mr Stuttard at work in the 1990s
Mr Stuttard at work in the 1990s

In keeping with his loyalty to the co-operative movement, his thesis, People of small means and high hopes, was a history of retail, worker, and housing co-ops in Leicester. It was the first thesis in the local history department to have co-operation as its subject, and the first using oral history.

He shared his expertise with articles for the Co-op News, and his many books testify to his vast knowledge of co-operative and mutual organisations which existed before the Rochdale Pioneers.

Gillian Lonergan, librarian at the National Co-operative Archive, encountered Mr Stuttard and his wife Pat many times when they visited for research.

She said: “He and Pat had a huge amount of knowledge about the co-operatives that they researched and we had many long and fascinating discussions.”

As a member of the UK Society for Co-operative Studies, he enjoyed attending their annual conferences, and went to the one held in Leicester, close to home, in the autumn of 2015. This was to be the last co-operative event he was well enough to attend.

Richard Bickle, from UKSCS, said: “Roy was a long-standing and active member. He was an avid reader of the Journal of Co-operative Studies and had a virtually unbroken record of attendance conferences. where he always made a positive contribution to discussion and debate.”

Mr Stuttard died peacefully, after a long illness, on 21st January. His funeral – conducted by Co-operative Funeralcare – will be held at St Joseph’s Church, Leicester, at 12.30pm on Monday 13 February and committal at Gilroes crematorium at 1.45pm.

He is survived by his wife, Pat, herself a committed co-operator and former president of the Women’s Guild, his children David, Sheila and Susan, and his grandchildren.

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