Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract
The Parliamentary Rugby League Group has received the sad news that that its President, Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract has passed away, aged 86.
Known to all as Geoff, he served as the MP for Pontefract and Castleford from 1978 to 1997, and as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons from 1992. He was one of the
founding Members of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group and for many years served as its Chairman before becoming President in 2011.
On hearing the news,Group Chairman Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said “we in the Group will remember Geoff for his passion for the sport he loved and the communities it supports, excites and serves. His own service to rugby league within Parliament and outside cannot be easily conveyed, so profound are the ramifications of his perseverance in changing the nature of professionalism across all sports. He challenged much on behalf of the sport and we and the wider rugby league community owe a profound debt of gratitude for all that that he did.
“We believe him to be the only Member of Parliament to have played rugby league at professional level. We know him also as a stalwart of the amateur game, and his role
within BARLA similarly cannot be underestimated.”
Geoff’s successor in the Ponteftact and Castleford seat is Yvette Cooper, also a Member of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group. She said “I will miss Geoff very much. He was a dear friend, always wise, thoughtful, and compassionate but also determined in the fight against injustice and unswerving in his loyal service for people of this area. Geoff’s fight to get compensation for miners with emphysema and other illnesses was a powerful campaign for justice and has helped thousands of families across the coalfields.”
She continued “But I will always remember the long chats we used to have, Geoff’s no-nonsense approach and also his warm chuckle. My thoughts and sympathies are with all Geoff’s family and friends now. I think the whole community will want to pay tribute to Geoff and the immense contribution to our area he made.”
Mulholland added “Every year, the Group awards an honour to an individual who it feels has
provided outstanding services to the sport of rugby league. I feel one of the most fitting ways we can ensure Geoff remains a focus for Members of Parliament is to rename the award to something befitting Geoff’s service.”
Group Officers, Parliamentary colleagues and friends Lord Hoyle and Lindsay Hoyle MP added
“It was a privilege to work with Geoff. His commitment for Rugby, BARLA and love of Featherstone was second-to-none. There is no doubt he will be sorely missed.”
On behalf of the Group, Mulholland has today written to Lord Lofthouse’s daughter. The funeral is being held at All Saints in Pontefract at 1415 on 8th November.