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Barbara Simon’s obituary: Tributes to ‘iconic’ secretary of Hornsey Labour Party

PUBLISHED: 17:43 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 30 March 2020

Barbara Simon. Picture: Kate Porte

Barbara Simon. Picture: Kate Porte

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Tributes have been paid to an “iconic” secretary of Hornsey Labour Party who died last month, aged 91.

Barbara joined the Labour Party when she was 14 and remained a member until her death, which coincided with its 120 anniversary.

She moved to Highgate in 1971 and became very active in the local party, holding the constituency posts of secretary, treasurer and membership secretary, among others.

She was widow of Joe, mother to Kate, mother-in-law to Bill, grandma to Charlie and Lucy and aunt to Julian, Richard, Mike and Dave.

Barbara was an active and enthusiastic governor of three schools. She played an instrumental role in getting a purpose-built site for Blanche Neville School for deaf children.

Barbara became involved in Hornsey Parochial Charity in the 70s, where she worked as a trustee until her death.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Ham&High: “Barbara Simon was an iconic secretary of Hornsey Labour Party. I first met Barbara in 1972 when I became voluntary agent for Hornsey Labour Party. She and I worked very well together, particularly when we disagreed.”

Mr Corbyn added: “Barbara was very passionate about the community and I remember on one strange occasion as chair of the public works committee she came to lobby me on ending the one-way system near her house [in Highgate], and of course I agreed.

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“Barbara was someone who made sure meetings always ran efficiently and on time and the processes were followed.

“She is the type of person who makes politics work and community work. My condolences to her daughter, Kate.”

He also paid tribute to Barbara’s late husband, Joe, calling him a “raconteur”.

Former Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Barbara Roche said: “She was an absolutely amazing, wonderful woman. She had an outstanding record with the Labour Party but also an incredible legacy in Haringey, very much dedicated to young people. Education was her big issue. She was really lovely, very warm, welcoming, friendly and intelligent. Very erudite, incredibly fond of music and theatre.”

Barbara’s friend Ian Hunt said: “Barbara combined an abiding curiosity and sharp intellect with a deep interest in others and a concern for their wellbeing which lasted right until her very last days.

“Her selfless and tireless voluntary work, and her devotion to duty, made her a pivotal member of school governor boards, local groups and the Labour Party, where she became a dependable source of knowledge and support.

“Her long and conscientious archiving of local Labour Party records prompted a, then young Jeremy Corbyn, to note that, ‘history would thank her’.

“Many will grieve the loss of an inspiring friend and colleague.”

Cllr Adam Jogee (Lab, Hornsey) said: “Barbara was a tour de force – strong and authoritative with a zero tolerance for long meetings or rambling answers. I can see her now sitting across from me with a tonne of paper on her lap and a writing instrument in her hand. Fiercely political, and hugely inspiring, she will be missed by the Labour movement right across Hornsey and Wood Green.”


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