Lives Remembered: Eddie Lever
Saturday 07 November 2009
Eddie Lever died on 25 August at the end of a long life dedicated to his socialist ideals and his love of humanity. Eddie was the Quaker chaplain at Ford Open Prison, and through this became noted for his work for the homeless.
Edwin Lever was born in 1922. His family was bombed out of London in the Second World War, and in 1942 he became a conscientious objector, a pacifist because of his passionate regard for the value of human life. He spent the rest of the war years working on the land. At the end of the conflict, he met his wife, Mabel, helping with the project, "Save Europe Now", initiated by Victor Gollancz, to send food parcels to the starving people in Germany. With others (notably Peggy Duff, later of the CND), Eddie and Mabel worked at this project in a small office together in London, and discovered they had much in common.
After the war, and out of their love for the land, they lived and worked on a small-holding at Barnham in West Sussex. Because of his ideals and testimony, Eddie became a fully fledged Quaker (Friend) at Reading, and later Littlehampton. He then joined those in Bognor Regis, and worked hard to secure the purchase of the current Bognor Meeting House. Perhaps his greatest achievement was inspiring and instigating the Bognor Housing Trust for the homeless, providing supported accommodation.
He commenced on this venture because, being a Chaplain at Ford, he observed that those leaving prison had great difficulties in becoming rehabilitated. He often spoke, eloquently and compassionately, in ministry at the Quaker meeting, of the prisoners he knew and befriended.
The Bognor Housing Trust, now a branch of the Quaker Housing Trust in London, was in itself a pioneering venture, involving much hard work and dedication – strong characteristics of Eddie's. With the help of a few other people, he purchased two properties in Bognor in 1984. The Trust has now grown to comprise three, containing altogether 22 rooms, and one flat.
Eddie appreciated beauty in nature, poetry and the arts, and loved walking (for instance, among the mountains in his beloved Lake District) until ill- health and hip replacements prevented him. Sometimes contentious in his way of putting ideas across, he was a vital force, sadly missed. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
Geoff and Jackie Ward (Bognor Quakers)
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