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Denis Healey

Lord Denis Healey,
Baron Healey of Riddlesden in the county of West Yorkshire.
Patron of the National Association of Writers' Groups.

The son of an aspirational engineer who became the head of a technical college in Keighley, West Yorkshire, Denis was educated at Bradford Grammar School. He won a scholarship to read Greats at Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned a double first.

His service in the Royal Engineers was honoured by an MBE in 1945. Denis was still in uniform when he gave a left wing speech to the Labour Party Conference in 1945.

A telling quote was, "I was determined to do my best to stop a Third World War." This, I feel, must have been a reason for his decision to pursue a career in politics rather than academia.

The focus of his life was service and he was a Member of Parliament for 40 years, supporting moderate policies of the Labour Party. He served as Deputy Leader, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer before becoming Chancellor in Harold Wilson's government and then Secretary of State for Defence. He was the Member of Parliament for Leeds until 1995.

Baron Radice, also a patron of NAWG, said, "He had the qualities and experience to be a great PM (but) he was a bit of a loner, which probably explains why he didn't get the leadership."

Tim Healey felt that his father was happiest as a problem solver, heading a department.

Lord Neil Kinnock, former Labour leader said, "Denis had high intellect, great personal charm and a sense of humour that was rumbustious and, when needed, lethal."

Edna May Edmunds, daughter of a crane driver, became his wife in 1945 and they were almost inseparable until she died in 2010. They had three children: Jenny, a retired teacher; Tim, a writer and broadcaster; and Cressida, a therapist.

Healey retained a keen interest in the arts, particularly in Opera. He was an amateur photographer and painted fine watercolours… I found an interesting website on his work. He played piano and he wrote, as did Edna who was a Booker Prize judge.

A quote from Denis Kaufman that gives a feel for the backdrop to Healey's life is that he stressed the need for politicians to have a 'hinterland' of interests outside politics. He certainly had that.

His sense of fun and clever wit was legendary.

The Healeys' support for the arts included NAWG for which we are grateful.

It has been a privilege to have him as a patron and our thoughts are with his family.

— Anne Steward

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Posted by: Kevin Machin Date: October 8, 2015 12:04 pm
Categories: People Tags: patrons
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