Dedicated and renowned politician dies at 48
PUBLISHED: 12:14 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:27 07 September 2010
A dedicated left-wing politician who travelled the world before returning to the UK and marrying a Ham&High editor, has died at the age of 48. Sue Vasey-Martin, wife since 2000 of current Ham&High editor Geoff Martin, had been battling cancer for almost t
A dedicated left-wing politician who travelled the world before returning to the UK and marrying a Ham&High editor, has died at the age of 48.
Sue Vasey-Martin, wife since 2000 of current Ham&High editor Geoff Martin, had been battling cancer for almost three years before dying in Hampstead Hospice early on Monday morning.
Although she had spent the last 15 years as a journalist, working on prime time documentaries for TwentyTwenty television and then on magazines for Bauer UK in Camden, her great love was politics. In 1987 she became one of the youngest female politicians ever to chair a council committee after winning a Labour seat in Slough.
She never shirked controversy and infuriated Conservatives by hanging a picture of Lenin on her health and recreation committee office wall. Years later, while working in Northern Ireland, she caused uproar at a Unionist Party conference when she refused to stand for the National Anthem. ''I'm a socialist and I wouldn't stand for The Queen in Stoke Poges, so why should I do it in County Armagh?'' she asked her accusers.
During her political career she worked with Ken Livingstone at the GLC and with Tony Banks at Westminster, but like her friend and mentor Tony Benn she became disillusioned with Tony Blair's New Labour and embarked on another of her great loves, travel.
True to form, she was deported during a military coup while travelling alone in Paraguay before reaching Australia where she helped draft pioneering legislation on restorative justice for New South Wales.
She had caught the travel bug at an early age. The daughter of an Army doctor, she was born in Middlesbrough (though Sunderland FC was her first real love among many sporting interests) and lived in the Far East and the United States as well as various parts of Europe.
"She brought out the adventurer in me,'' said husband Geoff Martin. "Once at her behest we took a rowing boat from Mexico to Belize, had a cup of coffee and rowed back again, not realising that all the time we were under surveillance by a secret military base.
"She was the most remarkable, multi-talented woman with a fiercely independent streak and I have been overwhelmed by condolence messages from every part of the world.''
Friends and neighbours from the Crouch End community have paid tribute to her warmth, dynamism and intelligence.
Fiona Hoyle of Haslemere Road said she first met Sue during the campaign to have a controlled parking zone introduced in Crouch End.
Mrs Hoyle said: "Sue was a beautiful person inside and out. She had so much energy and such a vital spirit.
"She inspired me in the time I knew her, even though she was ill.
"I'm sure her spirit and enthusiasm will live on in the world forever."
Sue Hessel, also of Haslemere Road, said: "Sue was one of the brightest women I have ever met, intellectually, emotionally, in everything she did. She was great company. Even in the depth of her illness, Sue continued her interest in others, wanting to know how we all were and what was happening.
"Sue was utterly connected to life and absolutely adored Geoff and the family. She fought that cancer tooth and nail.
"Her star will continue to shine."
The funeral will be held at Slough Crematorium next Thursday, September 17 at 11.30am.