Obituary: Ted Perfect, 1934-2023

Remembering a co-operator and a friend to many who was never afraid to speak his mind

Edward ‘Ted’ Harold Perfect was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in 1934 and moved to the UK as a child, attending Radford Boulevard Secondary School for Boys in Nottingham. He began working for Nottingham Co-op in 1956 and was for many years vice-chair of the regional board and secretary/treasurer of the Nottingham REA. Ian Hewitt remembers a devout Methodist, a stout co-operator and a friend to many who was never afraid to speak his mind. 

A service to commemorate the life of Edward Harold Perfect was held in an over-full Methodist Church in Stapleford (Notts) on 14 March. 

A few of us local co-operators joined a large number of local friends and family who shared a love for what Ted had brought to the community. Ted had been insistent that he didn’t want a fuss and had rejected the idea of holding any public service in his honour. Thankfully he relented.

Ted Perfect had been a major force in the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire co-operative movement – both as a salaried manager in the Greater Nottingham Department Store and later in Long Eaton. 

He had sustained the local Co-op Party Branch in West Notts & Erewash for many years as chair and had hosted branch meetings in his home. He was for many years the chair of the Co-op Group West Notts and Derby Area Committee.

At the time of the Co-op Commission in 2000, Ted was concerned that Nottingham was not to be a venue for the vital member meetings and intervened directly with the chief executive of the Co-op Union (later Co-operatives UK) to ensure a final extra session was included in the consultative programme. Ted could be persuasive.

Ted’s faith in co-operation and in Methodism was unfailing and immutable. I attended the celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the Co-op Party at Methodist Central Hall in London in 2007 as a delegate for the Greater Nottingham Party Council. Ted was frequently absent from debates preferring to spend time with his friends in the Methodist administration. He did appear behind me during a solemn session with the Fairtrade Foundation and said in a stage whisper audible across the quiet room that I had a bald patch that he could now clearly see. I didn’t thank him for his observation but had to smile at its delivery.

Ted was a real character and would never stand on ceremony – if something needed to be said then you could be sure that Ted would say it. But his interventions were always carefully worded to convey a clear sense of meaning, with respect for those in the room and warmth together with a tinge of self deprecation and wit. Ted was deeply committed to co-operation and a very special co-operator.

We will miss Ted Perfect but his memory will live on for those of us whose lives he touched.

At the service, Ted’s granddaughters, Sophie and Amber, both medical doctors, read poems expressing what Ted brought to the world in his eventful life. The poems are reproduced here with their permission.

(By Dr Sophie Jade French- Ted’s first grandchild) 

Why grandaddy you may ask?
Because he was so much more than just a Grandad
He wasn’t sure on the name at first
He resisted, but we persisted 
And we nearly always got our way 

Grandaddy was green
Green cap, green jumper, green fingered
His house was as green as his greenhouse
The smell of his tomatoes will never leave me
He nurtured his plants with so much care
So he could give everyone a taste of his love

Grandaddy was generous 
‘Do you know how many Christmas cakes I’ve made this year?’
Too many. At 88 he still loved to bake
As soon as we could stand we helped to mix the batter
What was his secret…?. I do know but I couldn’t tell you…
But I can say he was always cross when we licked the spoon

Grandaddy had the gift of the gab 
We listened to the same stories a thousand times
And we never got bored
‘Do you know I’ve looked after you since you were six weeks old?’
That was our favourite
Always with a twinkle in his eye

Grandaddy was genuine- an open book
He felt everything so deeply
A blessing and a curse at times I’m sure
If he loved you, you knew, it was palpable
There is a lot of Grandaddy that rubbed off on me
Yet his kindness is more than I can even comprehend

But what about Ted?
As much as Grandaddy was the centre of my world
And made me feel so special 
His capacity to love was boundless
And although I’d like to be greedy in my grief
Ted would want me to share 

Ted was tenacious, eccentric, he left a big impression
Admittedly I used to feel embarrassed
Everywhere we went he would make a fuss
But it wasn’t for him
It was for you
Every interaction meant something to Ted
Because for him life was so precious and beautiful
And he wanted you to feel it too

Dad, Father Ted, Edward, Mr Perfect
Perfect by name, but not by nature
A father, a brother, a colleague, a preacher, a friend
But never a stranger, he made sure of that
A thousand people could write a thousand poems
And it would never be enough

Thank God this isn’t Goodbye Grandaddy
Because I couldn’t be without you
I know you’re here with us
And you always will be 
Because no-one ever forgets Ted Perfect. 

Six Weeks Old 
(By Dr Amber Nicole French- Ted’s second grandchild)

To the lady on the till, or waiter with the bill
To every man passing by…
‘’Did you know? 
I’ve looked after these girls since they were 6 weeks old!
Isn’t that marvellous!’’

Bursting with pride
With a twinkle in his eye
‘’From 6 weeks old
Look how they they’ve grown!
I’ve raised them as if they’re my own’’

Childhood memories full of love
Quality time at the Western Club
Re-watching Captain Hook
Lumpy cheese sauce, knees stuck in chairs
Donkey rides and dwindling hair
Toad in the Hole
Greenhouse graffiti
‘’Finish your bowl,
The mouse will eat it!”
I’ve been proud since 6 weeks old!

With Father Ted
You were always well fed
At Harvester, Mr Mann or The Plough
Notts County and Cricket
The Co-op, Labour or wickets
To everything you were devout
Your faith to the Church
Australian since birth
Loving, in all that you did

A you’re adorable
B you’re so beautiful
F you’re forever in our arms

Mr Perfect you were
But it was Grandaddy to me
Thank-Goodness you raised us
From 6 weeks old!

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