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Pete Rippon obituary

Simon Rippon
·2-min read

My father, Pete Rippon, who has died aged 77 after a recent diagnosis of motor neurone disease, was a welfare rights officer, a Sheffield city councillor and a community activist who served as lord mayor of the city in 2015.

A committed but pragmatic socialist, he was known for building coalitions and in seeking the best for Sheffield residents. He supported many neighbourhood groups and enjoyed turning up at community events, always with a smile and genuine enthusiasm.

Born in the Southey Green area of Sheffield and raised in Pitsmoor in the city, he was the only son of Tom O’Shea, a steelworker, and his wife, Ann (nee Dalby). When his mother later married Bill Rippon, Pete’s name was changed.

Leaving Hartley Brook school at 15, Pete started work at Firth Brown Tools as a toolmaker and apprentice saw cutter, and he became a trade unionist and a Labour party activist. For more than 20 years he continued to work in the industry, but when steel went cold in the 1980s, Pete retrained as a welfare rights worker. He applied his passions to citizen advocacy in the neighbourhoods of Firth Park, Chapeltown and Pitsmoor.

From 1983 until he retired in 2009 Pete worked with Nottinghamshire county council as a welfare rights officer, advocating for people with learning disabilities at welfare tribunals, work of which he was immensely proud. He provided volunteer welfare rights support to striking miners across communities in South Yorkshire during the 80s strike, and with others helped to rekindle youth clubs in Sheffield during the 80s and early 90s – clubs he had used in his teens.

In 2003 he was elected to Sheffield city council, for Shiregreen, and later he represented Richmond ward. He served as Labour chief whip and was co-chair of the planning committee.

Dedicated to helping people better themselves, he showed compassion and kindness to everyone he met, regardless of background.

Pete always had time for his family; he enjoyed his walks in the Yorkshire and Derbyshire hills, often visiting Hartington and the White Peak. He also loved doing the Guardian crossword and listening to early blues and rock’n’roll music.

In 1963 he married Sue Lee. She died in 2015. He is survived by their children, Tim, Liam, Sarah and me, and seven grandchildren.