Elizabeth Sidney passes away

Elizabeth Sidney OBE (née Mudford) died on Saturday 16th April aged 87. She was an inspirational figure for many Liberal Democrats and for many women across the world.

Elizabeth possessed a stellar intellect. She was also elegant, charming, great fun and always optimistic. She believed in the imagination and ingenuity of the human race, particularly the female half of it, and was always hugely annoyed when women were described as ‘minorities’. Elizabeth recently joined the Humanist Association and will have a Green, Humanist funeral.

Elizabeth was awarded a scholarship to Oxford at 16, she completed her English degree in two years and then gained a masters degree in psychology from Birkbeck. She had four children, Fran, Maddie, David, and Rebecca, who died when she was just two. Elizabeth worked part time as a free-lance consultant when her family were young. She had six grandchildren.

Her extensive professional career focused primarily on developing equal opportunities and training in leadership and management skills. She worked with an international, hugely prestigious set of clients, including Governments, NGOs and blue chip private sector firms. In 1979 she founded the Mantra Consultancy group which numbered Marks and Spencer and the Bar Council amongst their clients. She was a fluent French speaker and played a key role for M & S when they opened their Paris branch.

Elizabeth championed the green movement from 1977. She was chair of the Green Alliance for six years and a trustee of the Environmental Law Foundation since 1990. Somehow she managed to fit in the responsibilities of being a JP.

This would be an impressive stand alone life story but Elizabeth also contributed hugely to the Liberal Party, helped bring about the Liberal Democrats through her work on merger committees and then played an important role in the new party. She was widely respected for her knowledge of trade and industry , helping develop party policy in this area.

Despite all of this, it will be for her championing of women and equality that many people will first pay tribute to Elizabeth and fittingly her OBE was awarded for services to women. Again, her achievements were formidable. These include past presidencies of WLF and the International Network of Liberal Women, and membership of INLW, the UK Gender Expert Group on Trade and long-standing board membership of UNIFEM.

However, this truncated list conveys nothing of her energy and the inspirational role she played for so many women, whether she was encouraging them, campaigning on equality issues, or supporting women’s groups across the world.

Elizabeth was not afraid of the big issues. She campaigned against female genital mutilation and strongly supported the resistance movement in Iran from when she learned about Ayatollah’s regime’s treatment of women. In 2003 she was asked to chair a new organisation, WAFE (The International Federation of Women Against Fundamentalism and for Equality). She held this position until December 2010.

We were very proud of Elizabeth in her local Islington party. It will be difficult to think of St. Mary’s ward without her. I know her neighbours are mourning her and the affection she inspired in them is further testimony to this remarkable woman.

There will be a memorial event for Elizabeth at the National Liberal Club in September.

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This entry was posted in Obituaries.
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5 Comments

  • Sandy Walkington 2nd May '11 - 10:22am

    I had not seen Elizabeth for years but I am truly amazed that she was so much older than I thought – she always zipped around with such intellectual and physical energy

  • Hilary Leighter 16th Jun '11 - 6:23pm

    I have just heard about Elizabeth’s death and am greatly saddened.

    What are the details of the memorial event please?

  • Mitchell Watkins 16th Feb '12 - 5:00pm

    Elizabeth gave me my entry into management consultancy at Mantra for which I am truly grateful. I loved working with her as she was a wonderful human being and a great mentor. I spoke to her about a month before she died and she was still an inspiration to me. She is greatly missed and I will never forget her. Mitchell Watkins

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