Brief Profile of the working life of Alex Bradshaw Chairman Gnosall Patients Forum
Left school at 16 having obtained the usual qualifications of the day.
Joined the Post Office as a ‘Youth-in-Training’ in the Telephone Engineering half of the Post Office. (Later split to become British Telecom).
After completing my training period as a telephone engineer I was subscripted into the Army – Royal Signals – two year National Service. I was attached to the RAF and served for 18 months with the 21stAir Formation Signal Regiment RAF Wildenrath in Germany. This was a lead base for NATO exercises of which we as a Royal Signals unit took a very active part.
On completing my National Service and returning to the UK I continued to work as a telephone engineer. Still Post Office engineering at that time.
British Telecom continued to be my paymasters for a period of 36 years. At that time and as one the top 100 UK companies BT was always keen and supportive of employees who wished to become part of the public service. I was not a very keen telephone engineer so took advantage of this opportunity!
I was firstly elected as a full time Trade Union official after working as an engineer for some 12 years. I was a branch assistant secretary of the National Communications union dealing with Legal, Health and Safety matters. I was later elected as Branch secretary and then as Branch Chairman. All full time and still paid by BT as one of BT Unions.
During that time I was nominated by the Birmingham Trades Council to become a Birmingham City Magistrate. This was and still is a two year process but I was eventually appointed by the Lord Chancellor and served on the Birmingham bench for 26 years. This commitment was usually for a one day sitting a week but was very often more depending on the very high volume of work passing through Victoria law courts. I was deputy chairman of both adult and youth courts and also served in Birmingham Crown court on appeals. I was later elected chairman of the Birmingham Liquor licensing committee. The work of this committee, which was the largest Liquor licencing committee in the UK was disbanded in 2006 by the Media, Culture and Sports Secretary of State when the government decided that this work was to be transferred to local authorities and out of the hands of the independence of Magistrates. Such was the amount of work generated by this committee it was necessary for me as chairman to spend 3 days a week in Victoria law courts but did not include 2 night time visits per month to all manner of night clubs and pubs etc in the city together with fellow committee members and our legal advisers. It was interesting to note that licensing for the consumption of liquor was the job of magistrates benches since Tudor times. It could therefore be argued that Liquor licensing had had a very good run!
Also during the early part of this appointment I was approached by a fellow Magistrate to join what is now the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Birmingham. Birmingham prison at that time was a category ‘A’ prison and housed some of the most notable and violent inmates of the day. I met all of these people who were interesting ‘characters’ to say the least! This was a Home office appointment. I served on the Board for 6 years and was elected after 2 years as deputy Chairman and later as Chairman. I also sat on the LRC (Local Review Committee – Parole Board) and was elected Chairman of that committee which again was disbanded by the Home Office in favour of the work being taken over by the National Parole Board at national level headquartered in London. The Time spent inside the prison was 3/5 days a month. During the earlier part of this work I studied law on a part time basis but never practiced.
Prior to my early release from BT in 1997 they seconded me to a charity called Apex Trust for a period of 3 years. This charity was charged by the Home Office to promote employment opportunities to prisoners who were shortly to be released from prison and having been trained and had qualified in a number of skills during their time at training establishments In the UK. My work with the trust was to contact employers who were short of some of the skills that ex-offenders were able to provide and had been trained at government expense! The real problem was to persuade employers to take on Ex-offenders. Together with a fellow secondee however, who worked for a major Insurance company in London, we devised a Fidelity Bonding insurance scheme which employers could purchase and on which they could claim should the ex-offender commit an act of theft etc whilst in their employ. This type of insurance is still in existence today. I visited most training prisons in the North and South west of the UK. The Secondment was successful and resulted in a number for organisations employing ex-offenders.
Prior to joining the Gnosall Patients Forum I applied for and was elected as a Governor at Stafford Hospital. In the event this was a fairly short lived appointment due to the ‘restructuring’ of the Hospital at the time.
Whist now completely retired and away from the hustle and bustle of city life I still remain Chairman of the Council of Management at Hall Green Little Theatre in Birmingham and Chairman of the Gnosall Patients Forum. I will continue to fulfil those roles for as long as the members wish me to do so.