Obituary: Gerard Hill

Remembering a true co-operative thinker, friend and family man

Gerard Hill passed away at his home in Peebles in the Scottish Borders on 17 September 2019, after a brave fight against cancer. His wife and daughter, Audrey and Katy, were by his side, along with his parents and other close family members.

The co-op movement was in Gerry’s bones; he was the son of Patsy and Joe Hill, who the driving force for the Co-op Party in Scotland for many years. As a young man, active in the Co-op Party, he was elected as a director of Scotmid Co-op where he became the youngest vice president and then, for a brief time, a member of the board of the CWS.  

Gerry was appointed a member of the Co-operative Commission to bring a more youthful perspective to a body which brought together some of the finest co-operative minds. Having been made redundant from his job, he decided to take a year off and throw himself wholeheartedly into the Commission, travelling the length and breadth of the land, balancing this with taking on childcare responsibilities for Katy. He was rightly proud of the important recommendations made by the Commission which has helped shape the destiny of the movement.

Throughout his career, Gerry established strong connections and firm friends across the Scottish Co-op and Labour Parties, regularly attending Co-op Party summer schools and even standing in the local elections in Penicuik.

In the autumn of 2000, Gerry made a career move which brought him to the Co-operative Group’s membership team under Moira Lees as regional secretary for Scotland – and latterly Northern Ireland too. Gerry was part of a close-knit team led by Moira and developed a strong connection within his own team – initially in Scotland and latterly the whole north of the UK.

He had a real bond with the Scottish board in particular, helping them to cement their reputation for common sense co-operation and thought leadership. His partnership with leading co-op figures in Scotland such as Stuart Ramsay, Susan Wilson and the Co-op’s deputy chair, Robin Stewart – who Gerry saw as a mentor and guide – created the strongest of co-operative cultures.

Gerry really was a true co-operative thinker so the opportunity to study for a Masters in co-operative management at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia was perfect. He was the proudest of graduates. Through this, life-long friends were made and Gerry continued to support the university after he graduated as a board member for the faculty.

Beyond the Co-op, Gerard was a passionate sports fan. In later years, he became a keen cyclist, taking on many challenging climbs, including in the Pyrenees where along with Katy he raised funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. He and Audrey were also avid supporters of Katy as an Irish Dancing champion.

Gerry was a true friend for so many across the movement and beyond – honest, decent and loyal. He was great company, whether it was fun you were after or just a debate about politics, sport or the Co-op.  Almost every conversation drew on his co-operative beliefs.

But, above all, the ever-present theme was the love for his family.

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