1980s >> 1985 >> no-974-october-1985

Obituary: Frances Ambridge

Obituary: Frances Ambridge

Frances De Metz was born in Amsterdam in 1898, the youngest of a dozen children of an orthodox Jewish family. Her father, a marine merchant, brought his family to Britain when Frances was tiny and they settled in London’s East End. He was, as Frances would recount, severe with his children, but he was also severe with himself and, when she was barely a teenager, he took his own life out of shame at being prosecuted for a minor trading offence. Such stories of the past Frances would tell me and other friends. She told of how she threw off religious ideas at an early age even though this mean diminishing contact with her family, of how she worked actively as a trade unionist, and of how after much searching among political groups and organisations she finally came across the Socialist Party. As soon as she heard an SPGB speaker in Hyde Park in about 1936, she knew she was on to something different. She started going to Party meetings and before long she decided she must join.

Once in the Party she met another member, Bob Ambridge, who was to become her life-long partner. As individuals and together they made a formidable mark on the Party over the years. In London their energy and enthusiasm were an example and an encouragement to other members and when they retired to Swansea in the mid-60s they did not let up. They revived a flagging branch and laid the basis for the active unit it now is. Bob died tragically in a road accident five years ago, but Frances carried on going to meetings, selling the Socialist Standard and talking to people about socialism. She carried on coming to meetings right up to her sudden death on 30 July at the age of 87.

What most heartened her about the Party in recent times was the growing number of new young members she saw around her. It gave her great pleasure that the myth of the Party membership as old or ageing was now definitely laid. To older Party members who seemed to her unduly critical of the efforts and enthusiasm of the younger ones she would say: “We shouldn’t criticise them. It’s their world. Let them get on with it”.

She leaves no known relatives but many friends who will sorely miss her undemanding company and her sense of humour but who will continue to be inspired by her lucid and unswerving commitment to the cause of establishing a society fit for human beings to live in.

Howard Moss

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