Lord Bill Morris
EMMA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2004
Bill Morris was born in Bombay, Jamaica in 1938 and lived with his parents (his mother was a domestic science teacher, his father was a part-time policeman) in a small rural village, Cheapside, Manchester. He was educated at nearby Mizbah School where his ambition was to play cricket for the West Indies.
His plans to attend a prestigious agricultural college had to be rethought in 1954, when he joined his recently widowed mother in Britain, living in the Handsworth district of Birmingham. The cultural differences were considerable -- as was the weather -- but he coped with the snow and the rain and started work at the Birmingham engineering company, Hardy Spicers, attending day release courses in engineering skills at Handsworth Technical College. He later married and had two sons, Garry and Clyde, and now has two grandchildren, Una and Rohan. His wife, Minette, died in 1990.
His trade union life began in 1958, when he joined the Transport and General Workers Union. Five years later, he was elected a shop steward and went on to hold a wide range of elected positions within the union, including membership of its General Executive Council. In 1973, he became a full-time union official and six years later, was responsible for leading national negotiations in the bus and coach industries. He became deputy general secretary in 1986.
He became general secretary of the T&G from 1991, and retired from this position in October 2003. He was the first black general secretary of a trade union whilst making the point during his election campaign: 'I am not the black candidate, rather, the candidate who is black.'
He has served on a wide range of national bodies, including the advisory councils of both the BBC and IBA, and is a leading representative of the Commission for Racial Equality. He chaired the Morris Inquiry into professional standards of the Metropolitan Police in 2004. Currently, he is a member of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the TUC General Council, the advisory committee of The Prince's Youth Business Trust, and a non-Executive Director of the Bank of England.
He is involved with higher education through being on the Board of Governors of South Bank University, a Trustee of the Open University Foundation, and the member of the Courts of Northampton and Luton Universities. He is also Chancellor of the University of Technology in Jamaica.
Morris was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 2002 and received a knighthood in the 2003 Queen's birthday honours list. On April 11, 2006, it was announced that Morris would take a seat in the House of Lords as a working life peer, and he was gazetted as Baron Morris of Handsworth in June 2006.
On receiving his knighthood he said in typically modest fashion, that the reward was not so much about him as it was about the causes he has championed. "I hope that in this recognition, today's young black Britons will find some inspiration.” Holding the view that race should never be an obstacle, Sir Bill Morris has been a champion for the betterment of race relations, and has always stood as an encouraging force for both black and white members of the community alike.
Lord Bill Morris
Lord Bill Morris
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