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Fred Forrester

The former deputy general secretary of the EIS and passionate educationist

The former deputy general secretary of the EIS and passionate educationist

Fred Forrester, who died of cancer on 13 August, aged 76, worked for the EIS union for 33 years, the last eight as the Institute's deputy general secretary.

Born in Glasgow, Fred attended Bankhead Primary and Victoria Drive Secondary. On leaving school at the age of 15, he joined the health department of Glasgow Corporation as a clerk. He resumed his education at night school, where he gained the Highers that allowed him to win a place at Glasgow University to study English language and literature.

After graduating with an Honours degree, he successfully completed postgraduate teacher training at Jordanhill and, concurrently, the Diploma in Education at Glasgow University.

Fred went on to work in two Glasgow schools as an English teacher, before being appointed as a lecturer in English and general studies at Coatbridge Technical College.

He joined the EIS in 1962 and rose rapidly to prominence within the Institute before his appointment as a full-time official at EIS headquarters in 1967.

After cutting his official teeth on organisational matters, where he was renowned for his grasp of and attention to detail, Fred moved on to handling education policy and served the EIS for many years in this role, which continued after his elevation to deputy general secretary in 1992.

The 1970s and 1980s were a time of great change and huge challenge for Scottish education, and Fred's skills and knowledge of education and professional matters were put to good use during this time.

Following his appointment as deputy general secretary, he was frequently in demand as a commentator on educational issues in both the press and broadcast media. He met these challenges with great relish and enthusiasm and, following his retirement from EIS work in 2000, he continued to offer written and spoken comment on a wide range of education and employment issues.

General secretary Ronnie Smith said: "Fred was a highly committed, hard- working and productive colleague. He was fearless in taking on the most difficult issues and always a free spirit, ready to `think outside the box'."

In addition to his educational and trade union work, Fred had a keen and active interest in politics. In a group of Glasgow University students that included John Smith and Donald Dewar, he became secretary of the university's Labour Club.

Fred stood for election to Parliament three times - once in Perth and East Perth, and twice in Glasgow Cathcart. It was in 1966, having narrowly failed to unseat the popular Tory, Teddy Taylor, on two occasions, that he gave up his political ambitions.

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