RIP Hetty Bower, 1905-2013

Hetty on the march in 2008  The remarkable peace and social justice campaigner Hetty Bower had died aged 108.

I first saw Hetty in action heading an anti-war march on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in 2008. Despite her advanced years, she kept up a seemingly effortless pace along the route down Whitehall to Parliament Square.

I heard she was a tireless peace campaigner who lent her presence and voice to a number of events, including Hiroshima Remembrance Day in Tavistock Square, London, each August 6.

During the film documentary London the Modern Babylon last year she explained it was the sight of young men marching proudly off to war in 1914 and seeing them return with missing limbs that propelled her towards her lifelong campaign.

In August she was a signatory the No Glory in War letter, denouncing government plans for next year’s £55 million celebration of the First World War.

Hetty was also a passionate believer in the National Health Service, taking part in the two marches to save her local hospital, the Whittington, from closure, and reminding the last Labour Conference how grim life was before the arrival of the welfare state in 1945.

Then a couple of months back I attended a gathering in Mornington Crescent, London, to mark World Peace Day. There was Hetty standing remarkably upright, saying in a clear and resolute voice that she had spent her whole life trying to bring peace to the citizens of the world and would continue to do so as long as she had breath in her body.

Hetty passed away on November 12, an inspiration to all those who believe another world is possible.

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