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Obituary: Edward Kelly, Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra president

Mr Kelly has died aged 73

Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra president Edward Kelly, who has died aged 73.

Edward Kelly, successful business owner and president of Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra, has died aged 73.

Edward started his career in the loading bay industry in 1973 with G Hunter who manufactured dock levellers and scissor lifts in Grays, Essex.

He had no idea what a dock leveller was until joining G Hunter but after two weeks’ training he was cast off to develop business in the north of England.

He often told the story that he decided to start his own company after drinking a little too much with two colleagues at a hotel bar.

The three of them complaining about how badly their employer treated them decided to start their own company.

However, before they got their plan off the ground, Edward and one of his colleagues decided to leave the third member out.

Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra playing in Huddersfield Town Hall

In Edward’s own words, the company was formed by two ‘ruthless, dynamic drunkards’.

Easilift Material Handling started in 1976 from Edward’s spare bedroom in Golcar but soon moved into an office above the greengrocer’s shop in Milnsbridge.

Edward’s gentleman’s approach to doing business coupled with excellent customer service gained much recognition and the business rapidly expanded.

In January 1980 the company moved to bigger premises at Kirkburton and in 1993 he merged the company with Dutch owned Loading Systems to become Easilift Loading Systems.

Since 1992 Edward was also a prominent member and figurehead of the British Materials Handling Federation and the Association of Loading and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers.

He was elected President of ALEM and twice elected President of BMHF, during which time he actively pressed government and the industry to develop even higher standards.

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Edward also had a role within the European Materials Handling Federation with a position on the Elevating Equipment Product Group and he represented the UK Government on the European CEN Standards Committee for dock levellers.

Away from work Edward’s passion was music.

He was a member of the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra for over 40 years where he played the violin and will be remembered as one of the most influential people in the 125 year history of the orchestra.

Joining the committee in the early years of his membership he quickly became entwined in all aspects of the running of the society, bringing his much valued down to earth practical business acumen to bear on a growing and changing collection of musicians.

Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra at Huddersfield Town Hall

An efficient and resourceful librarian for 25 years, it was a natural progression that he should eventually become president in 2002, a position he held with dignity and distinction until the end of his life.

His personal contribution to the recent success of the SPO cannot be overstated. He was responsible for striking many sponsorship deals with the business community without which many of the SPO’s achievements would not have been possible.

Working with a handful of like-minded individuals, he oversaw a period of dramatic change and improvement which took the SPO from a small band giving concerts in a village hall to an award winning symphony orchestra with a national reputation hailed by the BBC last month as one of the finest amateur orchestras in the country.

Edward also loved spending time with his family at their holiday home in Cyprus.

Husband to Marilyn, father to Sarah and Jonathan, granddad to Sadie, 11; William, six; Jemima, four; and one-year-old Teleri, he was a true gentleman and a proud devoted family man who will be dearly missed by all who loved and knew him.

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