Lib Dem By-election legend Pat Wainwright has passed away

Sad news today – the legendary Pat Wainwright has passed away at the age of 85.

She was the lynchpin of every by-election in the 90s, running the front-of-house operation. She would be the person who would greet you when you arrived and the person who would make you go out again or stay and stuff an impossibly huge pile of envelopes.

I first came across her at Littleborough and Saddleworth in 1995.

She greeted us with smiles and very clear instructions about what work we were to do.

She wasn’t afraid to tear a strip of me for doing something wrong either. “You eejit”, she quite justifiably yelled.  She certainly didn’t mince her words but I just did better next time. We had an absolute hoot.

One day she was on the phone giving life advice to someone. Exactly the sort of life advice we all need our friends to give us sometimes, in no uncertain terms.

Bob and I had only popped in for an afternoon to the headquarters in Shaw at the start of a week of travelling around the north west and the Lakes. But we had so much fun we ended up spending our entire holiday there. It was Bob’s first by-election and he got RSI from stuffing envelopes. We had a brilliant time and made several trips back there including for the last few days. I met a few people at that by-election who have become friends for life, too. 

The last time I saw her was at the By-election that Never Was in Newark. I, by this stage, was incredibly heavily pregnant. She was highly amused by my flowery maternity dungarees and actually refused to let me do too much work on account of a) my blood pressure and b) not wanting to be a midwife as well as by-election front of house person.

She was incredibly warm and open and kind and a bit fearsome. The absolute perfect combination to run an election office. A wonderful woman.

I am certain that those of you who have been to a Pat Wainwright by-election will have some wonderful memories to share, so please do so in the comments.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Chris Rennard 22nd Jan '19 - 9:06pm

    Pat was a friend to countless thousands of Lib Dem volunteers in Parliamentary by-elections and one of my best friends in the party over the last 40 years. She made HQs happy and efficient. Those of us writing the leaflets felt so much better when Pat was making sure that so many of them got delivered! She helped to make history at Eastbourne, Ribble Valley, Newbury, Christchurch, Eastleigh, Littleborough & Saddleworth, Winchester, Romsey and in many other campaigns including when we won Eastbourne back in the 2010 general election. Too much to say here, but many people also commenting on my Facebook page: I have posted comments on my Facebook page:

  • Lawrence Fullick 23rd Jan '19 - 9:06am

    In my dotage by election memories get merged and blurred but I recall during the Christchurch campaign Paddy Ashdown complained there were too many cardboard boxes on public view in the committee room. Pat responded by getting out a large box marking it “THIS IS NOT A CARDBOARD BOX”.

  • Rita Giannini 23rd Jan '19 - 12:55pm

    Eastbourn, 1990. I was spending a week working in the by-election, on secondment from the London Region LibDems. My English was pretty good, but my accent was atrocious. I answered the phone only once; after that first time, Pat confined me to work where I didn’t need to open my mouth!

  • George Crozier 23rd Jan '19 - 7:07pm

    Pat Wainwright – what a legend. You knew if Pat was running front of house that it was going to be a proper by-election campaign. Sad to hear she’s no longer with us.

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