Obituary: Baroness Airey of Abingdon

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The Independent Online
Diana Josceline Barbara Giffard, intelligence officer and political party worker, born 7 July 1919, assumed 1979 the forename of Neave and the surname of Airey, created 1979 Baroness Airey of Abingdon, member North Atlantic Assembly 1983-84, Select Committee on European Communities (Sub-Committee F) 1986-87, married 1942 Airey Neave (died 1979; two sons, one daughter), died Charlbury 27 November 1992.

DIANA AIREY was the epitome of courage and fortitude, writes Dame Guinevere Tilney. These great qualities shone forth at the time of Airey Neave's murder and the following years.

She and I were alone together in Westminster Hospital where Airey had been taken from his bombed car in the House of Commons. It was my task to tell her that no medical skill had been able to save her husband's life. For an instant she sat still, then walking, tearless, about the room she vowed she would see that all in which he believed would not cease.

She never forgot that pledge, keeping his memory green in a number of ways; such as the formulation of the Airey Neave Memorial Trust and joining all the House of Lords committees on subjects dear to his heart about which she often had to learn painfully and carefully.

Even when, five years ago, cruel illness struck her, making speech and understanding not easy, she battled on. Finally, when having to leave her beloved Westminster Gardens flat to be cared for in an Oxfordshire home, she still tried, by telephone, to make a point about political matters she believed would have been of concern to Airey. His last words to me before his ill-fated drive make a perfect epitaph. 'Diana is a wonderful person.'

She set us all an example of dignified valour in the face of great personal disaster which will not be easy to follow.

(Photograph omitted)

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