In 2015, Keith Hopkins, known affectionately as “the Raffle Man”, was awarded the lifetime achievement award by RGA UK, in recognition for his tireless fundraising at conventions over many years.
Aldo Navato recalls: he was the “most charming and likeable man. [He] could be outrageously and unintentionally funny, which is why I thought the world of him. No equal as a relentless separator of member and hard-earned raffle money.” April Barrett recollects how Keith “was one in a million, and [I] so loved chatting to [him] at conventions. We also had a few great dances in the early years too!”
It took some years for Keith to find RGA UK, but, after joining in 1989, he soon became an active member and only missed one convention in all his time. In recent years, he enjoyed sitting back and having a more relaxed time at the organisation’s annual events. Many more of his friends have recalled how he was a big part in conventions over many years.
He also travelled to many of the regional events, held across the country. Steph Birch remembers from her time as the Chair: “wherever the RGA had hired a village hall and a children’s entertainer, Keith would be there with his friends Pam and Chris. No distance seemed too far and he always enjoyed talking to everyone – young and old. Raffles weren’t limited to convention; he would help out wherever and whenever he could. Each time we’ve seen him, he would always talk to the children and ask how they were getting on. He was a very gentle man and his presence at these events meant a lot to us as a family”.
Keith was born in London and described himself as a happy child with blond curly hair. His Dad also had Achondroplasia and his Mum was average height. He was an only child, but close to his cousins and wider family throughout his life. He took regular holidays to stay with his cousin Tony in Winchester.
In Keith’s early years, he was educated in a school for children with special needs – not uncommon for the time, when children with differences were often educated separately from the mainstream. After leaving education, he joined his dad’s workplace and was employed as an office clerk at Morganite. He started work in London. When the factory transferred to Swansea, he moved there, with his family. Here Keith worked throughout his career until retirement, aged 65. The city became home for Keith and he supported Swansea City Football Club.
Keith had many interests outside of RGA. He loved classical music and enjoyed more contemporary artists, such as Catherine Jenkins. Driving gave Keith independence and pleasure. Meteorology was a keen interest. Keith followed the pressure charts and enjoyed the cerebral challenge of interpreting the anticipated weather. He cared about the Royal Family and sent the Queen and other senior royals cards, to show his support. Keith also had a strong personal faith, which gave him great comfort.
In the last couple of years, friends could see Keith becoming more frail. Despite his poor health, he continued to live independently – staying active, and getting out and about. He was at the recent RGA convention in October – once again, his raffle bucket in hand.
He passed away aged 70 after a short stay in hospital, where he was receiving treatment for heart problems.
Keith’s family have asked for donations to the RGA, in lieu of flowers. Friends are welcome to attend the funeral, which is to be held at Morriston Crematorium, Swansea SA6 6BY at 11am on 24th February.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
Pam Burnell and Steph Birch.