Obituary: Norvela Forster

Norvela Felicia Forster, businesswoman and politician: born 1931; Member (Conservative), European Parliament, for Birmingham South 1979-84; Founder Chairman and Managing Director, IAL Consultants Ltd 1966-93; married 1981 Michael Jones; died London 30 April 1993.

NORVELA FORSTER, a former Member of the European Parliament, founded her own consultancy company and was one of the most determined, energetic and ambitious of women. At the same time she was charming, vivacious and from time to time emotional. She was also a sportswoman of formidable energy and the first Englishwoman to sail single- handed in a first-class yacht race. She even contemplated a single-handed crossing of the Atlantic, although work prevented it.

Born in Wiltshire, she went to a local grammar school, and thence to London University, where she obtained a good honours degree. She became involved in the (Conservative) Bow Group and went to work for ICI. After 12 years she became impatient with the corporate life (impatience was another of her characteristics).

She founded her own company, Industrial Aids Limited, in 1966. This was (and is) essentially a marketing and management consultancy, eventually employing a full-time staff of 35, and a larger number of freelance advisers, dedicated principally to the European Community and the Third World.

It was natural, therefore, that she should seek election to the European Parliament. She was elected in 1979, and became involved in various committees. Her concern with the Third World led her to the External Economics Relations Committee. But her greatest success, and her single failure, came in other areas.

When the member states of the community began to move towards a single market, Forster was one of the most formidable members of the European Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in the Parliament. The final draft of that committee's submission to the Council of EC ministers owed much to her mind and her pen. Meanwhile, she found time to write a substantial monograph on the activities of Chambers of Commerce throughout the European Community.

She lost her European Parliamentary seat in 1984. But it was not her biggest disappointment. That was her failure to achieve success in a campaign for freedom of the skies in Europe - that is to say, the ending of cartels run by the big airlines - that hurt her most. Sir Christopher Prout, her then group leader, recalls her weeping when she realised she was not going to win. She married, in 1981, Mike Jones, a sailing companion for many years, and she was able to enjoy marital happiness until illness struck her down.

Norvela Forster fought every corner she chose to occupy with zest and intelligence; and she will be long remembered even outside the circle of her friends.

(Photograph omitted)