MISS IRENE PICKUP, B.E.M.,
I REGARD it as a very great privilege to be present at this meeting and to be given the opportunity of paying a tribute to a man I have known since 1919.
Since learning of Mr. Seebohm Rowntree's death, I have tried to assess what it was about him that made him an outstanding man in his generation, and I have come to the conclusion that he was a man of great vision; and yet he was no mere visionary, for we who worked with him not only glimpsed his ideals but saw them put into practice here at the Cocoa Works. But it is not only those employed here who have benefited from his life and work - his influence has been felt throughout the world. When I went to America in 1927 (and B.S.R. was responsible for that visit) I found that the people I met there knew far more about Seebohm Rowntree than some of his own employees, and I felt very proud to be a member of his staff.
I remember that on those early occasions - starting in 1919 when I was just a girl - on which, along with other representatives of the workers, I met Seebohm Rowntree, I was moved and fascinated by his desire to know about our lives from the inside; and that profound interest in our lives and our welfare created a great sense of trust in the minds of worker representatives who met him at the conference table. He was a man of great humility, understanding, and above all, tolerance. This latter quality was evident in his sympathetic understanding of our limitations and lack of knowledge. When I look back and recall some of the interviews I had with him, at a time when my views were much less moderate than they are now, I realise just how tolerant he was. He made it possible for his employees to improve their knowledge and widen their experience by means of classes at the Works and opportunities for attending external conferences; and the natural outcome was the strengthening of goodwill between management and workers.
He was to me and to many others - pensioners and older employees still working here - an example of high Christian endeavour; I and many like me were better men and women through having had the privilege of working with him. With his death, we feel we have lost a friend; yet we are thankful for all he stood for and all he accomplished within the Works; and we remember a man who was revered and respected by all who knew him, at the Cocoa Works and in the city. I have a faith - which I am sure is shared by hundreds of other people - to believe that Seebohm Rowntree will now be amongst that great company of men and women who receive the "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord".