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

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Mechanical Design Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Mechanical E...

Accountant,Reconciliations,Bristol,Bank,£260/day

£200 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Accountant, Reconciliations, Bristo...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn