A couple who first met at Holyoake House, the former home of the Co-operative Union and where we're currently based, are this month celebrating 54 years of marriage. Stuart and Kath Robinson met by chance ahead of a staff trip to Blackpool, after Stuart took the place of Kath’s friend who was unable to go. 

Told they were allowed to bring a guest, Stuart offered to accompany Kath on the trip. Having written down where to meet on a piece of paper (which Stuart kept in his wallet for many years afterwards!) they set off from outside Holyoake House, the famous green and white building on Hanover street, with the rest, as they say, now history. 

Working life

Having joined as a clerk in the Publicity Department of the Co-operative Union in 1962, Kath enjoyed her time immensely, recalling “There was a great atmosphere and interaction with other departments, with a social committee who arranged trips just like this one to Blackpool illuminations. Many of the staff in other departments had studied at the Co-operative College and would field a team at the annual cricket match.” 

Having left in 1966 to have their first child, returning briefly in 1967, she speaks highly of what she learnt during her first job, of working for an organization within the co-operative movement and some of the perks, “I learnt a lot during that time because the Co operative Movement is International, with links and correspondence to co-ops across the world. You signed in and were trusted to do so honestly. If you were on time for a whole month you were allowed to leave 15 minutes early on a Friday. That level of trust engendered a relaxed, hardworking and loyal, staff.” 

Politics and a co-operative legacy

Kath eventually moved into politics and was elected to Manchester City Council in 1979, holding a number of positions including Lord Mayor in 1986. 

The co-op connection never waned, with her former Co op Union colleagues coming to have tea with her at the Town Hall, presenting her with a painting of Toad Lane that they’d all signed on the back. 

Supporting each other

Kath and Stuart today

Indeed, she still speaks passionately about her co-op connections to this day, “I have always been a co-operative supporter and I’m still a member. When I was an elected representative I was a member of the Co-op Party where I met a couple of people who also worked at the Co-op Union. 

She puts the success of their marriage down to one simple thing, “We’ve always supported each other. Stuart and I have been very lucky and had a very eventful life.”