A remarkable woman and campaigner: Hetty Bower (1905-2013)

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They say you should never meet your heroes. But I’m honoured to have met mine, and it is an experience I will never forget.

I shared a panel with Hetty Bower at Labour Party conference this year, and came away from the weekend feeling deeply moved and challenged, as a woman, as a campaigner, as a Labour member, as an activist.

Hetty spoke movingly of post-war poverty, of life before the welfare state; a life that, at 107, she remembered very well.

She spoke of days where women had to choose between paying for food, or seeing the doctor. She feared that as a country, we were heading back into those dark and unimaginable times.

From the battle of Cable Street in 1936, to reminding Ed Miliband what his party stood for, Hetty was so sure and steadfast in her passion for what is right and just and fair. A Labour member since the age of 17, she told Ed to his face, to remember the principles that the Labour Party was founded upon, the principles that she campaigned for for over 90 years.

Hetty marched against the First World War, against the invasion of Iraq, against the closure of Whittingham hospital. She marched in the wind and the rain, for everything that she believed in. She is a reminder to me, that no protest is ever wasted. That we must raise our voices wherever and whenever we can.

In her own words:

“We may not win by protesting.
But if we don’t protest, we will lose.
If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.”

Rest in peace Hetty, you live on in all who knew you. I told you at Labour Party conference that I wanted to be you when I grow up. You laughed and laughed, and told me to keep fighting for what I believe in. And I will. I may not make it to 108, but I will protest until I die.

The world is a slightly less just place, with the loss of such a remarkable woman and campaigner.

Jack Monroe.

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Photos: The Daily Mirror.

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20 thoughts on “A remarkable woman and campaigner: Hetty Bower (1905-2013)

  1. Jack, I think you were so fortunate to get to meet and speak with a hero. I also think she passed some of her spirit magic to you and you wear it well!!!!!!
    Rip Hetty, we witnessed and will carry on in your steps.

  2. Very well said Jack, far better to take the chance through protest than to remain silent where there is no chance at all……R.I.P

  3. A moving tribute to an amazing and wonderful lady, but in relation to her opposition to WW1, she would have been about eight.

  4. Bless you hetty,I hope where ever you are ,you ,your beloved Reg and your dear friend Laurie Green are together still campaigning

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