"This is a good week for the birthdays of siblings. Yesterday it was my sister Susan and today is my brother Patrick's birthday. Our distinctions apart are very easy to discern. I still have my own teeth, hair and dignity. He and I share two things in common. We were each the Shop Steward of 'Harrison Gardner's Dyeworks', Hightown, Liversedge, which closed down in 2006. At the age of 18 years, I became the youngest textile shop steward in Great Britain. I held the post for two years before I emigrated to Canada and Patrick was Shop Steward for twenty-five years after me.
Secondly; in its 150-year existence, Harrison Gardners experienced only two strikes. I called the first strike and my brother Patrick called the second strike, some dozen or more years later.We often joke about it and I tell him that the strike I called was one of 'principle' whereas his was purely 'monetary.'
In 1960/61, colour prejudice and racism was rife in Great Britain. Indeed; it was even sanctioned by law. Landlords were allowed to advertise rooms and place signs in their windows stating,'No blacks or Irish.' Employers often refused to hire non-white workers. When Harrison Gardners refused to hire a West Indian man who'd applied for a job (despite having advertising two vacancies), I asked over 200 men and women to come out on strike. To their everlasting credit they did. The strike lasted less than a week and in the end, the West Indian was offered and refused the job. Given the time however, I regard this as one of my proudest achievements.
Me and Patrick both loved working at Harrison Gardners and serving our working companions as their shop stewards.While I hopped it across the sea to Canada, my brother Patrick fought for his working companions for the next twenty five years. The mill no longer exists and before it was demolished, Patrick managed to salvage the original sign which had been fixed to the outer wall of the building before I'd started working there in 1958. I was surprised to receive the sign as a present from him recently and have had it framed and placed in a position of pride in my house. I may have been the first Forde shop steward at Harrison Gardeners, but Patrick was certainly the most enduring and the best.
I couldn't make this birthday post however, without reminding Patrick and the world how he used to wreck his bicycles. He and brother Peter got their first bikes at the same time and within a month, the front wheel of Patrick's was buckled; thereby preventing it being handed down to the next sibling in line. I had that bike before him and never once scratched it. One month in his hands though and he'd knackered it! Happy Birthday, Patrick. I love you. Brother Billy x " William Forde: March 12th, 2013.