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Tributes flood in as ‘tireless campaigner’ Hetty Bower dies aged 108

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 November 2013

Hetty Bower and daughter Margie Dolan marching to stop the Whittington Hospital sell-off in March this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

Hetty Bower and daughter Margie Dolan marching to stop the Whittington Hospital sell-off in March this year. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Hundreds of tributes from the community and prominent politicians, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, have poured in for peace campaigner Hetty Bower, who has died aged 108.

Hetty Bower talks with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Labour leader Ed Miliband on International Women's Day in 2011. Picture: Clive GeeHetty Bower talks with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Labour leader Ed Miliband on International Women's Day in 2011. Picture: Clive Gee

Mrs Bower, who joined the march to save The Whittington Hospital earlier this year, passed away at the Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead, on Tuesday.

Chairman of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, Shirley Franklin, said Mrs Bower, of Highgate, was “a tireless trooper” and that “her brain was always with her heart”.

“She was a tireless campaigner for what she believed in and she lived by her principles. She was a totally admirable woman.

“She really was an activist right up until the end. We are so proud to have had her in our campaign. It is terribly sad but I’m so glad that she had good innings.”

Mrs Bower, who lived at the Mary Feilding Guild residential home in North Hill, signed up to the Labour Party aged just 17 and tirelessly marched on the streets for causes close to her heart throughout her life.

She joined the fight against controversial plans to sell off a third of the Whittington Hospital’s buildings in March, determinedly marching in the rain to show support for her local hospital in Magdala Avenue, Highgate.

Before the march, backed by the Ham&High and organised by the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, she said: “I’m not going to throw stones at windows or damage the building but I will protest as far as my legs can carry me.”

It was a mantra she lived by during her many years of peaceful activism.

Dartmouth Park resident and Labour Party leader Ed Miliband also paid his respects, tweeting late on Tuesday: “Really sad to hear of death of Hetty Bower at 108. Suffragette, Labour member (first joined 90 years ago), remarkable fighter for justice.”

Born in 1905, Mrs Bower’s anti-war convictions were sparked by wounded men returning from the First World War and the peace campaigner went on to join many anti-war demonstrations.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and candidate for the Holborn and St Pancras seat at the next general election, also took to Twitter on Tuesday to pay her respects.

The Somers Town resident said: “Very sad to hear of the death of campaigner Hetty Bower, aged 108. I last saw her at London Hiroshima Day commemoration.”

The former suffragette met Ed Miliband on the 100th International Women’s Day in 2011, the year she was named woman of the year by The Guardian.

Last month, she met the MP again at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, where she made a passionate speech against government cuts.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper also paid tribute to Mrs Bower, tweeting: “Sad news that the wonderful Hetty Bower has died at 108. Met her on 100th International Womens Day, talked about suffragettes she remembered”.

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