5th December 1954 – 31st March 2019
It is with much personal sadness that I write to inform friends and former colleagues of the passing of my good friend, Benny Lynch.
Benny passed in his new surroundings in Sicily, surrounded by his family. People who really knew Benny will be astonished to learn that in his later years he moved from Scotland to Sicily and became an olive farmer as well as running a guest house. He also taught English to refugees who had found themselves in Italy.
Benny and his family moved to Sicily in March 2011 and integrated well into the local community, forming close friendships and becoming part of the local community, where they were well liked and received.
Before joining Strathclyde’s welfare rights staff, Benny had worked at the car plant in Linwood near Glasgow. He worked there under various owners and when the plant closed, I’m sure it wasn’t just his fault, he worked for a while in residential child care with Strathclyde Regional Council. He was also an elected member for the Labour Party for a period of time with East Kilbride District Council.
His career in welfare rights began back in 1983 when he got a job as a WRO in Pollock in Glasgow. Benny was a popular character in his social work area team and was soon making his mark among his colleagues in welfare rights. His adversarial nature made him a terrific advocate at appeal tribunal hearings and his intellect saw him quickly adapt to the legislative intricacies and case law so necessary in that particular period.
Before long, he was promoted to the role of welfare rights development officer, where his easy going nature and intellect help recruit a new wave of welfare rights workers who blossomed under his tutelage and support. He had a particular interest in training, something which he was remarkably good at, and helped develop Strathclyde’s ‘Training for Trainers’ programme.
He was active in both the Scottish Local Authority Welfare Rights Advisers Group as well as the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers. Benny was always well regarded and his sense of humour, particularly wicked on even the most inappropriate of occasions, natural intelligence and general bonhomie ensured that he always became the centre of attention at any event.
We were very close friends for many years and more often than not, you wouldn’t find one without the other. We shared a similar, some would say warped, sense of humour, liked pretty much the same types of music and loved the beautiful game – football for the uninitiated! We supported different teams, but the rivalry between our clubs never affected our friendship. We would always have a bet of a drink on the game, but Benny only ever appeared when his team won. Thankfully, at that time, it wasn’t very often! How fitting he watched his beloved Celtic play on the day that he passed away and he would have been particularly delighted that they beat my team.
He was a massive Pink Floyd fan and actually went to Prague with his wife to see the Roger Waters “Resist” Tour. He didn’t let the rift between Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters put him off either and followed both their careers.
I could tell some marvellous stories about my great mate but the libel laws prevent me from doing so. He was even my lodger at one point, for a short period of time!
Paradoxically, the last photograph I saw of Benny had him looking better and healthier than in all the years I knew him, which makes his passing all the more shocking for me.
Benny will best be remembered for his caring nature, devilish sense of humour and an intellect which belied his behaviour at times.
Benny Lynch, the people’s champion! Shine on you crazy diamond!