28 June 2011

Obituary - John McLoughlin

Steve Whitby, past MD of HCS Restoration Ltd, writes:

John McLoughlin, 79, died on 23rd April 2011 after a long illness. Having kept in touch with John and his wife Pauline, every year at Christmas, I know that he enjoyed spending time during his retirement with his family and expressed extreme pride in their achievements. He was also a keen supporter of Manchester United and got involved with local amateur league football. He also never failed to tell me how much he loved his time working on the canals.
Following over 30 years experience of tool-making and precision engineering, John started work on the local waterways in 1983, working for the Community Task Force on the Ashton Canal.
In 1984 he was employed as a Supervisor, on a 12 month contract, with the Tameside Canals Development Association, chaired by Frank Ruffley. He had the unique qualification of being our only employee that had any firsthand knowledge of Canals or Government Employment Schemes. Within a few weeks of the project starting, we needed to appoint a replacement right-hand man for me. At the interview, John produced a large file with his diaries and all the paperwork associated with supervising a dozen participants for a full year. He could trace every bag of cement used and each pair of gloves issued! David Sumner and I were suitably impressed and John was appointed Senior Supervisor. The scheme proved popular and grew to 170 full & part-time participants and the association evolved into Tameside Canals Limited and eventually H.C.S. (Restoration) Ltd. John interviewed and appointed over 2500 participants over the years. He was a manager with a no-nonsense approach, but he was always fair and held the respect of all who worked with him. He had a ‘glass half full’ approach to life and liked to work with a smile. The change in emphasis from job-creation to training required that all the staff undertake appropriate training courses. John successfully completed both the NEBSS Certificate and Diploma in Supervisory Management.
It is fair to say that we got very good at ‘scheming’ and our 12 month contracts lasted over 15 years. When John reached his 65th Birthday he was worried that he may be forced to retire, but we were also getting quite good at canal restoration by then and had our eyes on a few more years work with the help of Derelict Land Grants and Lottery cash.
The Canal Society’s achievements and success during the ‘Employment Scheme era’ was founded on the ability of all the team to adapt and exploit every opportunity and consistently deliver good work. We needed a good team and every team manager needs a good right hand man – loyal, hard-working, conscientious, trustworthy and honest. I think I got the best.
Stephen J. Whitby

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