Byline: JEFF PRESTRIDGE;JEFF PRESTRIDGE
THE pensions law is an ass. If you don't agree, speak to Geoff Wedge.
Given just months to live, he has been told he cannot have a penny from one of his private pension plans. Archaic laws are to blame, laws that have no place in modern society.
Here we tell Geoff's harrowing story, yet more evidence of a pensions industry in turmoil . . .
GEOFF Wedge has one big ambition - to hire a box for himself and his mates when his beloved Darlington Football Club opens a new 25,000-seater stadium next season.
It may seem a strange wish with Darlington in a parlous position in the lower reaches of the Nationwide League Division Three. But, as Geoff says, once a Darlington fan, always a Darlington fan.
Regularly throughout 40 years, he has stood on the terraces at the Feethams stadium, often getting soaked to the skin, so it would be great to watch a game in comfort.
Tragically, 56-year-old Geoff may not see the start of the 2002-3 football season in August. He has cancer of the lung and liver.
Last August he was told by doctors that he had between 12 and 18 months to live.
Not that he is giving up without a fight. Far from it. 'I am certainly not sitting down, waiting to die,' says Geoff, who was forced to give up work last year as an agent for a company importing artificial plants.
He is now in Germany receiving immunotherapy treatment. It is not a cure, he says, 'but it may give me more time'.
Geoff, from Prestwich, Manchester, is also determined to let the pensions industry know what he thinks of it before he dies. He believes the retirement system fails tragically to deal with the needs of terminally ill people.
Divorced nearly 11 years ago, Geoff has private pensions with Legal & General and Windsor Life.
He has no dependants and, because of his poor health, wants to get as much as he can from his pensions.
If only it were that easy.
HIS Windsor Life policy, an old General Portfolio personal pension, has a value of just over [pound]10,000. Windsor offered a tax-free sum of [pound]2,526 plus an annual pension of [pound]444 payable monthly in advance - hardly a fair deal in view of Geoff's condition.
But after he confronted John Wybrew, boss of Windsor Life, the company offered a better deal. …