Former Romford councillor died alone

A PENSIONER who was not discovered until days after he died alone, had spent more than 60 years helping other people through politics and the trade union movement.

It is believed 87-year-old Bob Kilbey had lain dead in his Dorking Road, Harold Hill, bungalow for a number of days before worried neighbours alerted the authorities, last Thursday (October 7).

Fire teams and Havering Police sealed off the road for around five hours after a suspected gas leak at Mr Kilbey’s home, before removing his body in the early hours of Friday.

Walthamstow Coroner’s office confirmed he died of natural causes.

This week, former colleagues and friends paid tribute to the man described as “Labour from birth”, whose life serving people for the party spanned more than 60 years, but who ultimately died alone.

Friend and current Gooshays Ward councillor Denis O’Flynn said: “Nobody had seen Bob for a while. He very much kept himself to himself. It is very sad he should go this way after all he did for the community.”

After serving as an RAF pilot in the Second World War Bob became a tool maker the Ford Dagenham works; there his political career was sparked - a light that never faded.

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He was an active Trade Unionist for the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) before moving into the political arena in the Romford District and later Havering Councils, where served as Labour councillor for both the Mawney and Collier Row wards five times between 1964 and 1998.

He made an unsuccessful bid as councillor as recently as 2002 – at the age of 81.

He was also treasurer of the Havering Trades Council – a mini TUC - for many years.

Former council leader and Labour MP Arthur Latham said: “He was an absolute Labour man, no one’s quite sure when he joined the party, but he was Labour from birth.

“He was very loyal and diligent councillor and I was always jolly glad to have him on board.”

Personally, Mr Kilbey cut a solitary figure; he never married, and opted to live his latter years away from the public gaze, eventually cutting ties with friends.

Mr Kilbey was known to social services, who last saw the pensioner alive on Monday October 4 - but he refused help.

Sheila Lewis, interim chief executive of Age Concern Havering, declared Mr Kilbey’s death a “tragedy” but urged others like him to seek the services available, including the charity’s befriending service.

“We at Age Concern Havering are concerned about the older people in our community who are living lonely or isolated lives away from family and friends,” she said. “Every week our team of volunteer befrienders phone or visit almost 120 local older people checking their wellbeing and making social contact.

“We would very much like to hear from anyone of any age who feels, as we do, that tragic situations such as this one should not happen and is willing to dedicate an hour or more each week to be a volunteer befriender.”

For more info contact befriending coordinator Ann Siggins on: 01708 796605, or volunteer manager Sue McNally on: 01708 438931.