‘I didn’t like what was happening’ – North Staffordshire builder’s treasured letter from US senator after El Salvador crisis


Retired building contractor Barry Seckerson, 80, had always been interested in politics and what was transpiring in the world around him.

Having kept an eye on the news and current affairs, it was during the crisis in El Salvador during 1981 that his endeavours in writing to US Senator Ted Kennedy concerning the incident paid off when, on returning home, he was met with a written response from the man himself.

One of the several letters Barry received from US politician Ted Kennedy

“I’d heard through following the events as they unfolded that advisers were being sent into El Salvador, but the role of those sent in apparently changed to combat troops similar to what happened in Vietnam.

“So, concerned and interested, I wrote a letter to Ted Kennedy supporting the actions he’d taken.

“He was introducing a bill in the Senate to tackle what was going on.”

It may seem ever so slightly bizarre to many of us, but such was Barry’s interest in and dislike of the actions being taken in the central American country, that he felt he had to do something, if only to find out more and show his support.

“Why write? I just didn’t like what was happening in El Salvador,” he says.

“Lo and behold a few weeks later I came home to a letter, it was a reply from Ted Kennedy. He thanked me for the letter I had sent and shared my deep concern over the events which were unfolding, telling me about the bill he was proposing to suspend US military operations in El Salvador.”

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For Barry, it was a great moment which he puts up there with the best and most memorable occasions in his life.

He said: “It was really smashing to get the letter, as from there I ended up being in touch with a man named Edward Asner who had hosted a programme called the Lou Grant Show, but which had been dropped from the air after sponsors had pulled out on orders from the American government following his on air support of and donations to freedom fighters in El Salvador.

“We wrote to one another and we even spoke over the phone. Great memories.”

This exhilarating and dramatic unfolding of events was not the last time that widower Barry, who lives in Oakhill, was involved with politics and supporting causes he felt needed highlighting. From 1975 he was involved with the Labour party and also became good friends with former MP Jack Ashley.

His years spent involved with local politics was balanced with bring in the money and for hardworking Barry life as a contractor meant always going where the biggest penny was.

“When I was working for Taylor Woodrow It was one of the best places I ever worked, my face just seemed to fit with the directors and eventually after being on there a bit, I was put in charge of all site materials. I was there for four years and it was a great job. I had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria with them but had family commitments and decided to stay at home. Unfortunately, the big money was always outside of Stoke. I went to work in Yarnfield, near Stone, and was earning twice what I could get back home.”

After years of working outside in all weathers and with the gruelling and punishing trade he was in Barry decided to call it a day.

He says: “Arthritis started to come on from working outside, getting soaked all the time.”

For many years devoted husband Barry looked after his wife Brenda who suffered with Hodgkinson’s disease.

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The pair met in 1961 and were married three years later, going on to spend 53 happy years together before she passed away in May 2013.

As for Barry, he continues to reflect on a life well-lived and loved and still takes a great interest in the happenings of the world around him.

He adds: “Trump and what he’s doing in America is the same as what went on all those years ago in El Salvador and before.”





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