Live Remembered: Brenda Dick, potter, bookbinder and county councillor

 

Brenda Dick epitomised the un-sung millions who nurture families and build communities, but rarely receive a mention in the obituary pages of newspapers. She had no impressive academic, sporting, political or business achievements, but she unconditionally loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and supported, influenced and integrated a network of friends around the world. The postman's sack was always heavy with cards at Christmas.

Born in Norwich in 1916, she was strongly influenced by her father, Sam Cook, particularly in her sense of justice, her lifelong passion for cricket and her interest in almost everything – she read a newspaper every day (while railing against journalists who created rather than reported the news) and the New Scientist weekly until she died unexpectedly on 31 March.

She trained in physical education at Dartford College, Kent, but the Second World War moved her into physiotherapy, which allowed her to be more productive and relevant with her skills.

She married George Dick in 1941, but the war kept them apart for the next four years. Eventually, she rejoined him in East Africa after some tenacious harassment of the War Office bureaucracy.

During this exciting period of her life, she did everything from documenting the monkeys that her husband was using for his research on yellow fever in the Mountains of the Moon, to starting to raise a family. Her experiences in Uganda influenced her lifelong concerns about the challenges of developing countries, and formed the basis of the stories with which she regaled her grandchildren about shooting elephants and inadvertently urinating on crocodiles.

After 18 months in New York and Baltimore, she and George returned to Uganda, then to England in 1951, and on to Belfast, where she formed one of the founding groups of Amnesty International and supported the development of youth clubs. In 1966 she moved back to England, where she and George created an oasis of natural beauty and intellectual and gastronomic stimulation in Sussex. During these years she became an accomplished potter, bookbinder and gardener, reading widely and travelling extensively.

Her one regret in life was that she didn't play a musical instrument with proficiency, but her love of music and her artistic and culinary creativity lives on in her children and grandchildren. Many less fortunate adolescent girls also benefitted from her skills as a potter, which she taught at a girls' assessment centre for several years.

In the mid-1980s, at the age of 69, she became a county councillor for the SDP in West Sussex, a lone yellow flag in a sea of blue, with a special focus on education policy, particularly primary schools and the "rising fives". She remained a councillor until 1993.

She stayed in contact by email and Skype with her family and with many people of her children's generation who will remember her as a "second mother". She was Big Family and Big Community long before it was fashionable, an amazing person full of passion, compassion, intellect and tenacity, and a wonderful friend always ready to share a good bottle of wine. She will leave a gaping hole in many people's lives.

Bruce Dick

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power