TRIBUTES have been paid to “a working class hero” who marched on Westminster in his efforts to save a steelworks.
Danny Fellows, 71, died on Monday after a two-year battle with cancer and has been remembered by many for his tireless work to save Shotton steelworks in Flintshire from closure.
Mr Fellows, who was awarded the OBE for his services to employment, was born and raised in Shotton but moved to Pembrokeshire following the steelworks campaign where he continued to represent working people.
Among those paying tribute to Mr Fellows was Lord Barry Jones, MP for Alyn and Deeside when the steelworks were threatened in the 1970s, and whom Mr Fellows walked alongside when 2,000 workers led by Deeside Silver Band took the campaign to Parliament in 1973.
The band’s bass drum was confiscated by police with members paying £5 to retrieve it from Canon Row police station.
Lord Jones said: “He was a most genuine local union leader. He also was a strong supporter of the Shotton Steel cause.
“He really gave his heart and soul to the campaign. Danny was a good man and even to this day I remain ever grateful to him for his support and friendship.”
Shotton’s iron and steel making was originally scheduled to close by the mid 1970s, but following a local and national campaign led by trade unions at the works and supported in the community by local authorities, the new Labour Government undertook a review of the plan.
Mr Fellows worked with others on behalf of the steelworkers to save the Shotton site, but despite losing the steel-making end of the process and 8,000 jobs in 1979, they were successful in retaining the finishing end of the operation.
Gordon Smith, a former information services manager at the steelworks and author of A Century of Shotton Steel said: “I knew Danny well.
“He was a very pleasant, level-headed person and a pleasure to work alongside.
“As the main Transport and General Workers Union lay official at the works, Danny played a very active and important role on the Shotton Steel Action committee as it campaigned to save iron and steel making.
“He was well-respected by his trade union colleagues and by management.
“He expressed his views in a quiet manner and I recall him making an impressive, passionate plea on the closure issue on behalf of the whole workforce in a letter published in The Financial Times.”
Ken Monti, a fellow convener on the Shotton Steel action group with Mr Fellows said: “Danny was one of the nicest guys you could meet. He was honest, straight to the point and someone I would trust anywhere.
“I am very sorry he has gone.”
The father-of-four, who was married to wife Christine for more than 30 years, also met politicians such as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher as part of his efforts to save the steelworks
His nephew, David Jones, said: “I remember him walking arm in arm with Lord Barry Jones when I went with him on the march in London.
“He was also a big family man who enjoyed playing golf and in the last 10 years he also became involved in the church.”
Mr Jones’ wife, Brenda, said: “He was always trying to help the working man and would speak with anyone he could to save people’s livelihoods.
“He was heartbroken when he couldn’t save the steelworks. He gave it his all.
“He has been described as ‘a working class hero’ by someone who left a message on the family’s Facebook page.
“He was a lovely man, a great man, and it is such a sad loss.”
Following his steelworks disappointment, Mr Fellows moved to Milford Haven where he worked for the Transport and General Workers Union and also moved into local politics.
He also took a lead role in founding the Pembrokeshire Lottery, launched before the national equivalent, to help fuel economic growth from which businesses were able to apply for loans on reasonable rates enabling them to survive in difficult times.
Mr Fellows’ funeral will be held at Christ Church, Priory Road, Milford Haven, on Tuesday at 1.30pm.
All enquiries to Tom Newing and Sons Ltd on 01646 693180.