NEWS: ‘There’s nothing you cannot achieve,’ Jack Dromey’s inspirational final words to friend and colleague

Words & original pics by Ed King – initial image supplied by Naz Rasheed

In a phone call made on the morning he died, Jack Dromey’s final words to a friend and colleague were a last shot of his trademark inspiration.

Speaking to each other early on Friday 7 January, Mr Dromey ended the conversation with words of encouragement for Birmingham Labour’s BAME Officer, telling Naziah Rasheed: “…there’s nothing you cannot do. There’s nothing you cannot achieve.”

An inspiration to many across both the pollical spectrum and his own constituency, with tributes pouring in since the announcement of his death, Jack Dromey’s final words to his close party ally stand as a fitting epitaph to his dedication to help and support others.

Talking exclusively to Erdington Local, Naziah remembered her final phone call with Jack Dromey, where she was seeking help with party business on the upcoming local elections.

She told: “He was at home (Highcroft Villas, Erdington) and was saying he had to jump in the shower as he was running late, because he had to go to Castle Vale to meet Ray Goodwin (Spitfire Services).

“I needed help and advice on Birmingham May 2022 local elections and Jack was my go-to guy if things got tough, I’m on the executive board and there’s a lot of work with selections coming up. My confidence was low, and I was saying: ‘Jack, I’m just not sure I can do this.’

“He listened and just calmly said to me: ‘Naz, there is nothing you cannot do. There is nothing you cannot achieve.’ And that was it. Those were the last words he spoke to me.

“This is something that he always used to tell me. ‘I’ve seen you doing things, I’ve seen you speaking to people. I can see what you can do… and there is nothing you can’t do.’ He used to say that to me all the time.

“There were so many times I thought I won’t be able to do something, but by having him by my side I actually did it. And did it well.

“This is what he was repeating (in our phone call), he was telling me ‘Naz there is nothing you cannot do.’

“It made me feel there was somebody who believed in me, somebody who thought I had the capacity and the ability to achieve things.”

Naziah Rasheed had been appointed Birmingham Labour’s BAME Officer following her work supporting Labour’s West Midlands mayoral candidate, Liam Byrne MP.

One of her first community projects was a belated Eid Fair in Stockland Green, bringing multi-faith communities together at a safe time to celebrate following Covid lockdown restrictions.

Held at Highcroft Community Centre, the Eid Fair was attended by hundreds of people and families from all religious and cultural backgrounds – with Jack Dromey supporting Naziah in her first major outreach event.

Naziah added: “The Eid Fair was a good opportunity to bring the communities together, to celebrate something together. I asked Jack, you know what are your thoughts on this? And he said this is a brilliant idea, something we’ve never done in the past, and I’ll support you.

“We had a really good turnout. And Jack was taking tables in and out of the (Highcroft Community) centre. He helped with the cleaning afterwards, with me, my husband, and the kids.

“He was there until we were done at the centre, even the night before he came to see how the preparations were going. His support was always there for me.

“He was not one of those MPs who just not come back to you, who would just listen to you then forget about it. He would act upon it.

“He was a role model to me. He was a very good friend at the same time. I will miss him tremendously.”

Following Jack Dromey’s sudden death on Friday 7 January, tributes from across the community have flooded in – with people who knew and worked with him laying flowers outside his constituency office on Mason Road.

The first bouquet was laid by Short Heath Fields Trust, a local campaign group who have been fighting Birmingham City Council plans to build house on Short Heath Playing Fields (SHFT) – with Jack Dromey brokering often heated meetings between the Council Leader’s office and SHFT.

Often at professional loggerheads with each other, a healthy respect was fostered between Jack Dromey and the SHFT campaigners – with the long standing union man often celebrating their tenacity and achievements.

Featuring a red rose and a ribbon emblazoned with ‘JACK’, the card accompanying the flowers form SHFT states: ‘Jack, you kept your word. Promised & delivered us a seat at the table’ – reiterating a commitment the MP had once made to the campaigners.

More flowers began to appear outside the constituency office from Friday evening onward.

Further messages thanked Mr Dromey for ‘…listening to us, supporting us, and fighting to make Erdington, Birmingham and the rest of the UK a better place to live and work.’

Another bouquet carried the message: ‘Rest in peace Mr Dromey., You were a legend and legends will live forever.’

Jack Dromey was found dead at his constituency on Friday 7 January, after police were alerted following a missed meeting scheduled for 11:30am.

He is survived by his wife, Labour MP Harriet Harman, and his three children.

For more on Jack Dromey visit

NEWS: Shock as Erdington MP Jack Dromey found dead at constituency residence

Words & pics by Ed King

Shock spread across Erdington and Westminster as Jack Dromey MP was found dead at his constituency flat earlier today.

Police were alerted after the Erdington MP had not attended scheduled meetings, gaining entry to his flat when concerns were raised by colleagues in his constituency office.

Born on 29 September 1948, the long standing “true Labour man” had held the Erdington seat since being first elected in 2010, following a career on the front line of worker disputes – serving as the Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and Unite the Union.

Jack Dromey also became Treasurer of the Labour Party and was called to the front benches as shadow Minister for Housing under the then Labour leader Ed Milliband.

Most recently, Jack Dromey was appointed shadow Immigration Minister by Sir Keir Starmer, working tirelessly with support organisations in the UK and aboard to support people fleeing Afghanistan as the Taliban took over control of the country.

Jack Dromey is survived by his wife, Labour MP Harriet Harman, and his three children. His son, Joe Dromey, posted the following statement on Twitter earlier today: “Our dad – Jack – died suddenly today. We loved him so, so much. Rest in peace big man x”

Current Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to Jack Dromey today.

He stated: “The proud son of Irish parents, Jack Dromey dedicated his life to standing up for working people through the Labour movement, becoming Deputy General Secretary of the UK’s largest trade union then a Labour MP.

“From supporting the strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratory, when he met Harriet, through to being elected to represent Birmingham Erdington in 2010, Jack lived his commitment to social justice every day.

“Jack was recognised for his determination to stand up for his constituents and he was highly respected and warmly regarded across Parliament.

“My thoughts and those of the whole Labour movement are with Harriet, their children and all those who knew and loved Jack.”

A close friend of Jack Dromey, Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward further added: “”I’m absolutely devastated at the death of my friend and colleague Jack Dromey.

“A true Labour man who served the people of Erdington with passion and dedication, Jack devoted his life to the service of others. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his family at this time.”

In Erdington, Jack Dromey had recently fought alongside workers at the ill-fated GKN factory on Chester Road, voicing their plight in Parliament and brokering meetings between the international owners Melrose PLC and Unite the Union.

Mr Dromey had also been involved in the campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’, brokering meetings between Birmingham City Council and local campaigners fighting to stop the proposed housing development on the green space.

He had also been fighting to get more police officers on patrol in Erdington, following the widespread cuts in law enforcement and community policing.

Just before Christmas, Jack Dromey organised for the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, to walk Erdington High Street with the new Street Pastors to see first hand the problems they faced.

A champion of the arts in Erdington, Jack Dromey was a firm supporter of local creative industries and the impact they made across the constituency – supporting the monthly Evening of Creativity events at Oikos Café and joining hundreds of people at the recent Little Amal event in October last year.

Jack Dromey was also heavily involved in the North Birmingham Economic Recovery Plan, working with regional stakeholders such as Witton Lodge Community Association and The Pioneer Groups to kickstart employment and encourage economic stability following Covid.

On Friday 7 January, the day he was found dead, Jack Dromey was scheduled to work on the Castle Vale estate – meeting with local support agencies and residents to address impact of spiralling fuel and living costs in one of the most affected areas of his constituency.

Ray Goodwin, CEO of Spitfire Services, had planned to spend the morning with the Erdington MP and local Castle Vale residents. He told Erdington Local:

“Jack was the best MP I have worked with; he became a good friend and was a thoroughly decent man.

“What you saw was what you got, there were no angles there. He was a remarkable and honourable man.

“He was at the centre of many community projects; he believed in the strength of people and community, that they were the answer to many things, and he fought for them. I’m heartbroken. I’m going to miss him terribly.”

For more on Jack Dromey visit

NEWS: Councillor Penny Holbrook found dead at Abbey Road home

Words by Ed King

Stockland Green Councillor Penny Holbrook was found dead at her Abbey Road home on Sunday 21 November, aged 43.

A statement released by Councillor Holbrook’s family said: “We are devastated to announce the death of our beloved Penny. As you will appreciate, this has come as a huge shock to Penny’s family, friends and loved ones.

“Penny was a much-loved daughter, aunt, sister, and friend who always found time to help others and will be missed by so many people. We are heartbroken by this news. As her family, we ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”

Joining the council in May 2003, Penny Holbrook was only 25 when began representing the Stockland Green ward.

Cllr Holbrook was re-elected in 2004 but lost out to Matt Bennett (Con) in 2008 by only 72 votes.

Then in 2010 she took back Stockland Green with 1760 more votes than her closest rival, retaining the ward ever since. She also sat as Chair of Housing and Neighbourhoods Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Set to stand for Stockland Green again in the 2022 local elections, Penny Holbrook had been invited back after members of the local Labour party voted overwhelming to present her again, receiving 28 votes for ‘yes’ and only four votes for ‘no’.

Penny Holbrook was raised in Falcon Lodge, Sutton Coldfield, and attended John Wilmott School.

Having also worked in Erdington MP Jack Dromey’s constituency office, Penny had strong ties with the area and was well known by many local residents.

MP for Erdington Jack Dromey said: “Penny was one of Birmingham’s finest, a fierce champion of her beloved Erdington which she served so well.

“She worked for me in my constituency office and served with distinction as a councillor for Stockland Green.

“Local people loved her and there was no problem too big that she could not tackle to help them.

“The loss of Penny is absolutely tragic but her memory lives on. RIP dear Penny.”

Standing for Stockland Green, Penny Holbrook represented the ward alongside Cllr Josh Jones.

Cllr Jones added: “The loss of a friend and comrade is always hard to take, but the loss Penny is a devastating blow to me as we were not just Ward colleagues but close friends who were there to support each other and have helped each other in our political and personal lives ever since.

“She was a great Councillor who achieved great things in Stockland Green, but more importantly was a wonderful person.

“She will be missed tremendously by the people of Stockland Green, her comrades in the Labour Party, but most of all by her friends and family.”

Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward, who ran against Penny Holbrook to become Birmingham Leader by only one vote in 2015, added:

“I am shocked and saddened at the death of my friend and colleague Penny Holbrook. My thoughts and condolences go to her family and friends at this tragic time.”