As one of Norman Harding’s comrades, I am sorry to inform his readership that he passed away a few hours ago (9 December 2013).
About 6 weeks ago he was admitted to St James’ Hospital in Leeds with a serious chest infection. Norman’s stay there became a nightmare as they were unable to control his pain properly. His underlying condition was pulmonary fibrosis that possibly resulted from his time working as a cutter in the Leeds clothing industry half a century ago. He went home 2 weeks back, but it soon became clear that he and his wife Pauline could not cope, despite some provision of home care and oxygen installed in their house. His admission to a rehabilitation unit still didn’t relieve his pain and lack of rest, so he was taken to St Gemma’s palliative care unit last Thursday. I spoke with him on Friday and he had managed to sleep and was lucid and free of pain, though very frail. Others have told me that he continued to be pain free over the weekend, but sedatives made it increasingly difficult for him to converse. At the end his family was with him.
Anyone who has visited Staying Red and has read any part of his book may soon have felt that they knew him despite never having met him: honest, humorous, generous, kindly and always principled. In life that is exactly how Norman was: someone who truly deserved to be called ‘comrade’
Norman had a wide circle of comrades and contacts, so please pass on the sad news as you see fit. Some may wish to write tributes and reminiscences, and one possibility is that they are collated here as well as being passed on to his family. Contributions could be posted as Comments on this post.
A great loss to our movement, and personally for many individuals.