When Jack Jones retired as general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union in March 1978 he was well aware that there was no single organisation which represented and campaigned on behalf of pensioners. Although some trade unions had retired members’ sections, and there were various pensioner organisations and charities in existence, there was no umbrella body that could co-ordinate and lead the campaign.
With the initial support of the TUC, in 1979 he worked on a blueprint for an umbrella organisation, made up of affiliated groups, and in keeping with this idea he came up with the Chartist inspired name, the National Pensioners Convention.
On the 14 June 1979 the first National Pensioners’ Convention was held at the Central Hall, Westminster; attended by 2500 older people, who discussed and then adopted a Declaration of Intent. It stated: “This Convention declares that every pensioner has the right to choice, dignity, independence and security as an integral and valued member of society”.
Over the years, the NPC acquired premises and staff, and grew in size to cover around 1.5 million older people in over 1000 different organisations across the UK.
This account is taken from archives at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick and from information supplied by Roland Worth (first secretary of the NPC), Cyril Marshall (NPC treasurer Dec 1991 to Dec 2008) and Edith Pocock MBE (Norfolk and Norwich Pensioners Association).