Liz Rorison passes away

As many of you know, our dear friend and colleague, Liz Rorison succumbed to a short illness on the 24th of June.

Music was such an important part of Liz’s life it is no surprise that she is fondly remembered for giving melody to the party’s liberal enthusiasm at the annual Glee Club. Nearly everyone shares the memory of her at the piano playing with huge energy and with a great big smile on her face as Ralph Bancroft led the party faithful in a rendition of The Land.

She first played the piano at an informal singing gathering at the Scarborough conference in 1975. This became the regular Glee Club and she continued playing for over 25 years – her piano stool was probably the safest seat in the party!

She studied music at Nottingham University and she became a member of the Tech Committee, providing sound, lighting and all that is needed for plays, bands and student events. This led her to an amazing career as a sound engineer with the BBC.

After graduating she applied for just one job, and became a programme operations assistant at the BBC World Service. When the BBC started permanently broadcasting from Parliament Liz joined the team and became the first female radio outside broadcast sound engineer, an accolade that led to an invite for other ‘first’ women at 10 Downing Street.

Liz’s political interest started as a result of a short holiday in Scarborough, which coincided, with the Liberal Party Conference in 1971. She joined there and then, and over the years was an active campaigner and agent. Her great penmanship produced many blue letters in Islington, and of course her music ended lots of party conferences.

She was a life long supporter of Sheffield Wednesday, an avid bird watcher, and church organist. A flight on Concorde cured her fear of flying. She is remembered for her doughty performances as a school Governor in three Islington Schools, Highbury Fields, Angel School and Copenhagen School, where she became the Chair.

As a governor of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain she shared her lifelong passion for music with young people. She created an annual prize, The Liz Rorison Award, which is awarded to a young musician who has made a significant contribution to the life of the orchestra, who has shown care and consideration for others, and made newcomers welcome. Receipt of this award is considered prestigious, and many musicians include it on their CV. It is a real shame she will be missing NCO’s September Concert at St John’s Smith Square with ‘old girl’ Nicola Benedetti.

Everyone has their own memories, and these are just a few of the examples of her kindness and generosity and her natural and instinctive liberalism, which showed through in everything she did. She has stipulated that wine and champagne must be served after her funeral and that the day must be a celebration of her life. That is so very Liz too!

Her funeral service will take place at Christ Church, Highbury Grove, London, N5 1SA, at 2pm on Tuesday 5th July 2011 followed by a private cremation. At Liz’s request, no mourning and family flowers only. Donations to breast cancer charities, care of George Nosworthy at Cree, Godfrey and Wood, 28 High Road, East Finchley, London, N2 9PJ.

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8 Comments

  • Liz’s enthusiasm for the Glee Club extended to more that just playing the piano, When I was involved in editing the Liberator song book, I recall her delight at finding “The March of the Women”, a song dating from 1910 and composed by Dame Ethel Smythe, which became the official anthem of the suffragette movement and which appeared in various editions of the songbook.
    Everyone who ever attended a Glee Club will miss her cheery presence and spectacular capacity for beer – the consumption of which never seemed to diminish her musical talent.

  • Laura – v sorry to hear this; I had some good chats with Liz at conference but also because I used to work with her sister Kathy years ago.

  • Dominic Mathon 6th Jul '11 - 9:14pm

    Liz was also our agent in Islington for many years. I fondly remember her telling the story from her time in hospital back in Dec 1999 (by which time she’d passed on that baton). Apparently Liz had smuggled in a radio and was in the habit of listening in late at night. When she heard the news that we’d won the Hillrise by-election (& taken control of the council) she she apparently made so much noise (whoops of delight!) that the nurses came running over to see what was wrong. She was a wonderful human being and will be very much missed.

  • Allan Bancroft 7th Mar '16 - 8:17pm

    For those of you who may remember my brother Ralph Bancroft you may be sad to hear that he passed away on Saturday night. He was an active member of the Lib Dems and was a frequent and active attender at Party Conferences for many years. It is too early to give a full account now but please pass on this news to all who knew him.

  • Ian A Harwood 23rd Mar '22 - 6:30am

    Oh, my good Lord!
    I name searched on a whim. This I found. I had no idea that ‘bigLiz’ had passed away.
    I met her on a visit, before I ever went to work as an audio assistant at BBC Wales.
    I knew of her political affiliations, but had no idea of her musical connections. When she left BBC Wales to move to BBC Radio outside broadcasts in London (everyone knew it was because BBC Radio was going to broadcast live from Parliament,) she was ‘fondly’ known as “the first of the great escape”!
    Well I was the second. I moved to BBC Television Outside Broadcasts. My base was across the road from hers, in Acton, London.
    As both smokers, we used to meet in ‘secret’ hiding places.
    We always had a friendly relationship, in fact, when she left BBC Wales audio unit, she donated her locker to me.
    I had great fun with the tapes she left me. Still have some of them.
    Liz, you are remembered, and are missed.

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