Pyrford peace campaigner Mary dies at the age of 83

A VETERAN peace, anti-nuclear, climate change and sustainability campaigner from Pyrford has died.

Mary Holdstock passed away aged 83 in Woking Hospice on Friday 28 December.

Her life had been one of involvement in many local organisations, notably the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Woking United Nations Association and Woking Local Agenda 21.

She was until recently an active member the Woking Debates committee, encouraging co-operation and discussion on important topics which affect the borough and the wider world.

Mary and Douglas Holdstock with Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivor Marika Jiva, before the presentation of Declarations of Public Conscience to the International Court of Justice in 1996.

Mary was born on 13January 1935 in Corby Glen, Lincolnshire, the second of seven children. Her father was a farmer and, as the eldest daughter, she cared for all her younger siblings.

After training as a nurse in Manchester and at University College Hospital, London, she met and married her future husband, Douglas Holdstock, who was then a junior physician.

In 1971, they moved to Woking with their two daughters, Jennifer and Rosemary, and Mary worked for 17 years as a nurse at the Rowley Bristow orthopaedic hospital in Pyrford.

Mary acted as Douglas’s secretary when he began writing and editing articles and books using a medical perspective to campaign for peace. They were both active in the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and founder members of the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear War.

Douglas was editor of the campaign’s journal before he died in 2008 and Mary was on the editorial board for 31 years.

Her anti-nuclear activities included taking supplies to the women’s protest camp at the Greenham Common cruise missiles base in the 1980s and 90s. She also did administration work for Crisis at Christmas.

“Both Mary and Douglas were extremely caring people and they campaigned against nuclear weapons and for a more peaceful, inclusive society as members of numerous organisations,” said Jennifer.

“She was also concerned about protecting the environment and enjoyed being a member of RHS Wisley.

Mary leaves her daughters and four grandchildren. Her family have thanked the hospice team for their “fantastic care” during her illness.

At Mary’s request, her funeral will be at the Shamley Green woodland burial ground. The family intend to hold a memorial event later in the year.

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