A tribute to Ann Winfield

At Lib Dem Voice we were sad to hear of the death of Ann Winfield.

Her husband, Rif, writes:

My wife Ann Winfield, Liberal Parliamentary candidate in the 1983 General Election for Newham North East, former Assistant Secretary of the London Liberal Party, and Leader of the Liberal Group on Newham London Borough Council from 1982 to 1986, died in Bronglais General Hospital at 8pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. She was 69½ years old.

Born Ann Spriggs in Ladywood, Birmingham, in mid 1951, she was recruited into the Liberal Party (at the age of 9!) by Wallace Lawler, who subsequently became Liberal Councillor and later (briefly) Liberal MP for Ladywood. Wallace was the pioneer of what became known as community politics in the 1960s, prior to the Eastbourne Declaration by the Party in 1970; Ann was his lieutenant in that early period. Ann remained a committed and active Liberal for the next 60 years. Due to extreme poverty of her (non-political) family, Wallace paid her ‘sub’ for the first few years, but by the age of 12 she was running his ward (or constituency) surgery in Ladywood.

Ann moved during the 1970s to Lytham St Anne’s and later to Ferndown, East Dorset, where she stood for Council election. In 1979 she and I met at Liberal Assembly in Thanet, and Ann soon moved in with me in Ilford; we married there in June 1980. Through campaigning in the next two years, we were both elected to Newham Council in 1982, gaining the ‘safe’ Labour ward of Little Ilford. Ann also became the PPC for the constituency, standing there in 1983. Seven-day-a-week activity sapped Ann’s precarious health (she had a heart attack in 1984, in the middle of a notorious by-election campaign) and in 1987 we moved to Pembrokeshire, where lived for three years before repositioning to Ceredigion, our home every since.

Here our joint role has been primarily cross-party, organising Charter 88 forums for all candidates in the 1992 and 1997 General Elections, convening here in Ceredigion the successful campaign for devolution in 1997, and taking a leading role in the voluntary sector and in the Community Health Council. However, Ann also served as National Secretary of the residual (post-merger) Wales Liberal Party until its final dissolution. Increasing disability left her wheelchair-dependent from 1982, but did not impinge on her commitment to campaigning. In 2001 Ann was appointed an an Independent Member of Ceredigion County Council’s Standards Committee on which she served the maximum allowable term of ten years, first as Vice-Chair and subsequently as Chair.

Notwithstanding her disabilities, we travelled widely together, from the Mediterranean to the Far East. But by the time her term of office ended in 2011, Ann’s eyesight was failing as well as other deteriorating physical conditions, and she swiftly became totally blind. Intellectually unimpaired, she remained a well-known campaigner (especially as an acknowledged expert advisor for disability rights) right up until her last cardiac attack on last Tuesday, 22 December.

We send our sympathies to Rif and the family.

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This entry was posted in Obituaries.
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8 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 30th Dec '20 - 10:15pm

    Thanks for posting this. Ann and Rif were real pioneers in difficult times.

  • Simon McGrath 31st Dec '20 - 2:42pm

    Sorry to hear this Rif. I remember you and Ann very well from when I lived in Stratford

  • Ian MacFadyen 31st Dec '20 - 2:48pm

    Rif, I send my condolences to you and your family. I hope you’re bearing up.

  • Rif Winfield 2nd Jan '21 - 9:32am

    Thanks to all of you for your kind remarks.

  • Humphrey Hardy 7th Jan '21 - 4:12pm

    I was saddened to hear of this. I had known the for over forty years. I went to their wedding in 1980 when I was living in London and also a London Liberal Party Regional Officer (usually Treasurer). Latterly, since I moved to Somerset, I have visited them both in Llanrhystud.

    All best wishes to Rif.

  • Phil Wainewright 26th Jul '21 - 2:04pm

    I have only just seen this, having been preoccupied at the time with a family illness. I spent many hours pasting up Focus artwork (in the days of Letraset and Cow Gum) at Ann and Rif’s home in Little Iford. Ann was a force of nature and I’m sorry to learn of her passing.

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