Barry Smith, former Head of Personnel, has died suddenly in hospital. He moved his home from Warwickshire to Northern Ireland some years ago, having retired from Pebble Mill in 1991.
The following comment is from Louise Willcox, who remembers working with Barry Smith fondly:
“I am sorry to hear about Barry Smith. I spent many an interesting day negotiating with him, with my ‘lay’ BECTU hat on. He did his best to be honorable, within the constraints placed upon him by the BBC.
After him came the world of Human Resources – a role-change explained to me by a BBC Personnel Officer, who took demotion, rather than swap. The difference, she told me, was that a Personnel Officer’s role gave them the satisfaction of looking after the welfare of staff (from hardship loans to arranging time off for staff in emergencies), not just advising ‘the management’ on emloyment law and implementing change for them. Human Resources is the management of humans as units of work, only. I nicknamed Barry’s replacement the Head of Human Robots!
Barry was definitely Head of Personnel and felt his ‘duty of care’ keenly. My condolences to his family.”
(Thank you to Jim Dumighan, Annie Gumbley Williams and Louise Willcox for this information).
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Marie Phillips: ‘I am very sorry to hear that former Head of Personnel and Administration, Barry Smith, died a week ago. Barry had lived in Belfast for some years since retiring and his Funeral was held there yesterday [15th Jan]. I was Secretary to his Deputies – Andy Tylee and Bridget Allen before moving to CIN and shared an Office with his Secretary, Jeanette Read. Barry always worked very hard in the very best interests of staff and I am sure there will be many memories of the help he gave.’
Andy Bentley: ‘I remember Barry manning the North Road gate during a strike, he said afterwards he could not believe the amount of abuse he got because the car park was full. He was very sympathetic to us after that.’
Jane Upston: ‘Dear Barry, a fantastic boss. I worked in Personnel for 10 years, first as Maggie Molloy’s and Barry’s P A and then as Personnel Officer Network Television. I remember you well Louise. I was then Jane Morgan.’
Ed Billington: ‘Sad to hear this news always a nice guy I remember sitting in my 3 wheeler outside pebble mill one night on picket duty for the union and he came to see if I was ok and told me if gets to cold go home to bed.’
Before going over to Children in Need I worked for Barry Smith’s Deputies.Andy Tylee and Bridget Allen, sharing an office with Jeanette Read, his Secretary. He worked very hard in the very best interests of staff and many will have memories of the advice and help he gave. Family meant everything to Barry; the brown phone in his office was for them only and whenever it rang he answered it and dealt with the call – WHOEVER he was meeting with. Some days were “heads down and gobs shut” days as Jeanette and I called them when we knew he had a serious matter to deal with. Most of the time though, we shared many laughs.One morning I arrived in the office to hear Barry saying very firmly “I have told you to sit there and keep quiet and do as you are told” I took it that the mood of the day would be grim and that Jeanette was getting a dressing down. When she appeared I expressed my sympathy. She burst out laughing and took me into Barry’s office where his golden retriever Mick was sitting at his feet. Mick was recovering from surgery and only Barry was available to look after him that day ! You will remember the introduction of Fax Machines which we thought were a miracle of technology and waited with baited breath one day when Barry called from France to tell Jeanette he was about to fax her a French letter !!! It was of course a document written in French. In his own quiet way he transformed the running of the Building and importantly its security. Pebble Mill had much to thank Barry Smith for.