A PROMINENT clubland figurehead from the North-East is vying to become the movement’s national leader.

George Smith is one of three candidates for the Club and Institute Union’s (CIU) top post in another Advent election next month.

While voters go to the polls in the Westminster General Election on December 12, CIU members in clubs across the country must complete voting to elect their national president nine days earlier.

The Durham branch secretary and CIU national executive (NEC) member for almost six years, is opposing former national president George Dawson, the West Yorkshire branch secretary, who is seeking re-election, plus Wessex branch secretary John Wood.

Mr Smith, 77, a CIU member all his adult life, is steeped in the region’s club tradition.

Sunderland-born, the shipyard worker joined parent club, South Hylton Working Mens’ Club (WMC), in 1965 and is now a life member.

He was then introduced to Pennywell WMC, also in Sunderland, by his father, a founder member of the club.

Having moved to Teesside to work at the old Haverton Hill shipyard, he became a member of Billingham Trade Union Social Club, in 1977 and two years later was elected to the committee.

He has maintained the position of club secretary, having first been elected in 1991, and is now also its treasurer.

Elected to the Durham branch executive committee in 2003, he also became a divisional representative, before elevation to the role of branch secretary in April 2014, when he was also elected to the NEC.

Backed by branch and NEC staff and executive committee members, he said: “I’m working hard to keep our clubs together and to assure them that we are here to help them in any way that we can, to keep them up to date with old and new legislation, and the everyday running of our clubs, as well as to help with their domestic problems.”

On that front from he attends meetings and tribunals across the Durham branch, which, despite the perceived decline in membership, still has 158 clubs in its area, the traditional county area between the Tees and Tyne.

Mr Smith is confident of backing in Durham and Northumberland areas, but he has also received messages of support from the Midlands, Wales and elsewhere.

Ballot papers are now in all clubs, with a deadline for return to head office, in Islington, on December 3, prior to the count on December 6.