Remembering Dave ‘Dod’ Knight

Dod helped carry a Unison Waltham Forest branch banner on many protest marches
Dod helped carry a Unison Waltham Forest branch banner on many protest marches

A tribute to the local trade unionist, O’s supporter and righter of wrongs, written by Mick Holder

Dave Knight’s various activities led him to be recognised almost anywhere he went around Waltham Forest.

A former pupil of Leyton High School for Boys, he made lifelong friendships with pals who “bent not broke the rules” and faced discipline when they turned up to run the annual cross-country race dressed as ‘Gumbys’ from Monty Python.

Those school pals met a similar bunch from Leyton Girls; Dave fell in love and married Anne. The couple had two kids, Joe and Ellie – as well as dogs Basil, Jelly and Juno. He made lots of friends among the fellow dog-owners he met at Hollow Pond and Wanstead Park.

Many of us didn’t just know him as Dave; to us he was ‘Dod’, a nickname from school. Seeing Mott the Hoople in his teens triggered a love for rock music and many know Dod from watching bands, especially at the Red Lion, Rainbow, and Roundhouse, watching such bands as Genesis, Pink Floyd and Hawkwind.

Dod became a social worker at Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest councils and pursued his father’s socialist outlook. He joined the National and Local Government Officers’ Association, now Unison, and was an active member and rep throughout his working life. He was involved in many trade union campaigns, such as those against rate-capping and supporting the miners’ strike, and eventually he became branch secretary of Waltham Forest Council’s Unison branch, a position he held for more than 20 years.

Dod knew the importance of working with other trade unions and was active in the local TUC group, Waltham Forest Trades Council – for which he later became president. His activities included supporting such events as the Festival For Racial Harmony and Workers Memorial Day, marching against fascists in Waltham Forest, and campaigning in support of tenants facing eviction and workers on strike.

Dod was active in local charities, Children’s Holidays And Other Specialities (CHAOS) and The Woodcraft Folk. He organised fundraising events and set up holidays for local kids who’d never seen the sea or forest.

Then there was Leyton Orient; Dod was a life-long devotee to the O’s. In 1986 he founded fanzine The Orientear, which is still thriving after 266 editions. When the National Front started organising on the terraces he wrote articles condemning fascism and called for the club and fans to act, which they did.

Dod was keen to stay fit. In the 1990s he took up running and joined East London Runners, making many more friends. He took part in races and completed the London Marathon more than 15 times, raising thousands of pounds for good causes. After retirement, Dod joined Orient’s walking football team. It was with his encouragement and guidance that they won funding from Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust and made a successful FA Charter Standard bid.

A book could be written on some of the aspects of Dod’s life recalled here. Above all, he was a fantastic character and thoroughly decent bloke.

Donate to Dogs Trust, a charity Dave supported:
Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/a-knight3