CamdenNewJournal

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Gloria was the benchmark of a rebel

Friends and family gather to see plaque unveiled in memory of 'a woman of the people and a local heroine’

03 May, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Friends of Gloria Lazenby at the plaque unveiling in St Martin’s Gardens, Camden Town

THE born rebel Gloria Lazenby was remembered by friends as they gathered around a bench in a little Camden Town park on Monday.

Though a popular Labour councillor through the 1990s she never quite fitted the bill as a loyal party member, eventually defying the leadership in opposition to library closures.

Inevitably, she found herself expelled from the party and stood as an independent candidate, almost snatching a Camden Town seat.

The remarkable life of Gloria’s – she died two years ago at 88 – was touched on by her daughter Jennie as she unveiled a plaque fixed to the bench which described her as “a woman of the people and a local heroine… a socialist community activist, a comrade, an inspiration and a ‘Phenomenal Woman’.”

As she spoke, a small box of Gloria’s ashes were scattered behind the bench – more ashes are planned to be placed near Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery.

Gloria Lazenby

After her eulogy, a group of women sang a protest song You Can’t Kill the Spirit, a favourite of Gloria’s whenever she spent time at the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common.

The little park is beginning to fill up with special benches to remember Camden Town rebels – there’s one bench in honour of firebrand Ellen Luby and another for campaigner, Barry Sullivan.

After the ceremony, the comrades retired to Gloria’s home for a champagne toast to the rebel and to swap stories about a woman who kept on fighting for good causes. Even when she was critically ill, a friend recalled, she insisted on supporting the junior doctors’ strike.

Jotting down her daughter’s name, she corrected my spelling. It wasn’t Jenny but Jennie, she told me.

“She named me after Jennie Lee,” she smiled. Jennie? I should have known, of course. Jennie Lee’s husband was one of Gloria’s heroes – Aneurin Bevan, a founder of the National Health Service.

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