Arthur Kennedy - Past President 1981-1982
Arthur Kennedy OBE
1981 – 1982
It is with deep regret that we learnt the news that Arthur Kennedy passed away peacefully on the evening of Tuesday 20th January 2015. He was 89 years of age. Arthur had been in poor health since his stroke early last year and had recently been growing steadily weaker. Arthur was a tremendous character of the old school; a loyal and committed member of City of London Round Table 13, becoming Chairman in 1959–60 and of the London Old Tablers’ Society for which he was Chairman three times, in 1967–68, 1993–94 and in 2001–02. Arthur was elected National President of the Association of Ex-Round Tablers’ Clubs at the 1981 AGM held in Buxton, Derbyshire, and in his inaugural address stated that fellowship and friendship were the main objectives of the Association. His theme throughout his Presidential Year was one of better communications, improving our Magazine and urging greater participation by the Regional Councillors. Arthur also revived the joint meetings of Club Chairman and fully supported all Cluster Meetings. He also stressed the importance of giving maximum support to local Round Tables whenever we can, particularly with regard to membership, stating that if Round Table membership declines, ours will surely follow suit tomorrow. He was an example and inspiration to all members privileged to know him, mischievous, forthright, generous and a stickler for tradition. Arthur was also a life-long member of the London Rotary Club, the first Rotary Club to be formed outside North America. Arthur was one of laundry industry’s pioneers, who helped to start the UK textile rental sector as well as being in the vanguard of many of the industry’s influential bodies. His initiative was evident right from the start of his career at 14. As one of eight children, he had no opportunity to continue formal education beyond the then leaving school age. He went first to Pollards, the shop fitter, but felt uncomfortable with the swearing of the older men, and, with his mother’s permission, soon found himself another job. Noticing the Clissold Laundry at Drayton Park (part of the Advance Group) on his way home, he went in to ask for work and joined as a van boy the following Monday. He eventually became supervisor at the North Finchley branch. After serving in the Royal Navy between 1940 & 1945, he returned to Advance Laundry, however, as he felt unable to progress further, he left to join the Old English Laundry at Windsor as manager, and later became general manager, and eventually managing director at Sunnybank, Vauxhall. The awarding of the OBE in June 1991 marked a well deserved public recognition of his achievements for the industry. Arthur was justly proud of his active role in developing trade associations. He was the first President of the Institute of British Launderers (IBL) to serve on three separate occasions and had the council chamber named in his honour. He was President of the British Linen Hire Association and the Textile Services Association and National Chairman of the Young Launderers. Wanting to give something back to help members of his industry, he started the Arthur Kennedy Benevolent Fund with a personal donation of £100,000, the administration of which still carries his name. As well as actively serving in trade associations, Arthur also served as convenor of the Whitsters Club from 1976 to 1987. Once asked why he had taken such an active role outside and beyond his formal career, he replied with a touch of humour “Because I am a busybody.” Adding that: “I have a degree of leadership, so I was a natural choice for the Whitsters convenor”Despite devoting his entire working life to the laundry industry, Arthur also held several non-executive directorships of various companies including the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Group of Companies. He will be sorely missed and remembered with respect and affection. Our condolences go to Arthur’s family, friends and all his Club Members.
(With thanks to the London Old Tablers’ Society))