LETTER : Harold Wilson: a practical, caring and unfailingly kind man

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From Ms Diana Hamilton Fairley

Sir: On 23 October 1975, my father was murdered by the IRA. That evening Marcia Williams rang the house in which I, my two sisters and my brother were sheltering. She was ringing on behalf of Harold Wilson to ask if there was anything the Prime Minister could do to help us in our hour of need.

He could: our mother was in China on a tour and we had no way of contacting her, since China was very isolated at that time. Her address was in our windowless, damaged house. Mr Wilson arranged for Roy Jenkins, the then Home Secretary, to contact us. The police found the address in Shanghai and Mr Jenkins finally managed to track my mother down through the embassy in Peking, arranged her flights and brought her home in under 48 hours.

Mr Wilson's appreciation that, in a time of acute grief, practical help is even more important than kind words helped us more than I can say. Without him and Mr Jenkins it would probably have taken over a week for my mother to return, a situation that does not bear contemplation in a situation that was beyond understanding. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to a practical and caring politician and send my condolences to his family at this sad time.

Yours faithfully,


London, E1