Obituary: Annette Hendry

Veteran Liberal Democrat campaigner and former Councillor, Annette Hendry sadly passed away on Wednesday 31st May after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 74.

It’s very sad that my first ever article for Lib Dem Voice should be this, but I wanted to celebrate Annette’s life and all she achieved. Annette was one of my local liberal heroes.

She met her husband Alan while she was reading English at University College London and the couple eventually moved to Reading for Alan’s job. Annette started her long service to the community in Reading by teaching English as a foreign language to the new arrivals from the sub-continent. They later had three children, Douglas, Anne and Neill.

Her passion for helping people led her to take on a second degree in Social Work at Oxford Brookes University, which meant she was able to become a social worker at what is now Bracknell Forest Council, where she worked with with troubled teenagers, dysfunctional families and children in care, which she found incredibly rewarding and life enhancing.

Annette was active in the Liberal Party, then the Liberal Democrats, and was a tenacious campaigner for the Party in the 1970s, 80s and 90s until finally becoming Councillor for Peppard ward on Reading Borough Council in 1999, a role she held until 2007. She was also a long-standing Chair of the Caversham Branch of the Greater Reading Local Party.

As well as being a Councillor she was a school governor and strong advocate for the Reading Citizens Advice Bureau which she became a trustee of.

I only joined the Liberal Democrats in late 2011, but Annette was one of the first people I met and we were soon friends. Ever cheerful, she simply got stuff done, both as a Councillor and as a general campaigner. I always knew I could rely on her to help organise an event or campaigning session. She was a liberal to her core. One particular moment will always stick in my mind when she took umbrage with another Liberal Democrat who was expressing some not so-Liberal views – I’ve never seen anyone go so white. Behind her cheery disposition was a very strong core liberal belief when things were wrong they should be fixed and addressed.

I asked some Local Party members to describe Annette:

She was so impressive, quite stern and proper, I was quite scared of her actually! But in fact I don’t think there was ever a meeting where she was not both smiley and wise.

Annette was a great people person often putting others needs before her own. She exuded confidence and friendliness to everyone – with a twinkle in her eye.

I knew Annette for many years as a member of the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats, more recently she became my best friend. We shared very similar tastes in books, theatre and holidays as well as politics. Like so many people I will miss her and the country is a poorer place without her.

Annette was always a busy person: if you tried to arrange a meeting you would need to wait some time for a gap in her diary.  She was looking after her grandchildren, taking people shopping or to hospital, going to neighbourhood meetings- always helping people.  She also had a big smile most of the time, and giggled often (especially after a glass of wine at our annual fundraising evening) and her smile only disappeared when she was really cross about something. Usually this would be about education or young people, and especially if she felt people were being treated unfairly.  She helped so many people during her life, and will leave a big hole in all of our lives

Annette was an incredibly compassionate woman who campaigned tirelessly for the Party and causes dear to her heart. We will miss her terribly.

* James Moore is chair of Greater Reading Liberal Democrats and a member of the ALDC Management Committee

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  • Well done James. I didn’t know Annette but you’ve made her sound very much like the archetypal LibDem activist who we would all recognise in our own areas. And I have a feeling she’d be quite happy with that. Commiserations for the loss.

  • Clive jones 5th Jul '17 - 2:43pm

    A really nice article James. She was a lovely lady who I knew for over 35 years. It was always a pleasure to be in her company.

  • David Warren 8th Jul '17 - 10:27am

    Annette was an amazing lady.

    She won and held a council seat in the normally Tory ward of Peppard from 2000 and 2007.

    No mean feat.

    I first met her in 2011 when she came to my house to interview me as a prospective council candidate.

    We became friends and she was always very supportive of my campaigning activities in the Southcote ward of RBC.

    I particularly remember her coming over to a petitioning session I organised in support of a community facility.

    We had many fun conversations, my favourite being when I told her about being chatted up by a very pushy gay guy at a Spring Conference in Brighton.

    My protestations that I was a totally straight man took a bit of getting across.

    When I told Annette her reaction was to apologise, my response was to laugh and then to tell her that it wasn’t for her to say sorry.

    That was Annette a lovely person, a great community campaigner and a committed liberal.

    She will be greatly missed.

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