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Beatty Orwell obituary | Local politics

My mother, Beatty Orwell, who has died aged 105, became interested in politics in her teenage years, taking a stand against Oswald Mosley and the fascist Blackshirts at the battle of Cable Street in 1936. She joined the Labour party in 1950 and later became a mayoress and councillor in Tower Hamlets, east London.

At the time of her death she was the oldest member of the Labour party and last year on her birthday received cards and flowers from Keir Starmer and Tony Blair.

Beatty and her two sisters were brought up by their parents, Julia (nee Pam), who worked for the tobacco importer Godfrey Phillips making cigars, and Israel Inderstein, a Spitalfields market porter in the East End of London; on the day Beatty was born, in July 1917, a German Gotha bomb landed a mile down the road at Bank. Beatty went to the Jewish Free school, which was then in Whitechapel, leaving at 14 to work for a dressmaker and then at Lottereys sewing uniforms for soldiers.

She began her political activities early, protesting against a rally of Mosley’s fascists at Kensington Olympia in 1934. In 1936 she met John Orwell, my father, in Victoria Park and they married in 1938.

During the second world war, Beatty and John were bombed out of their flat in Whitechapel and Beatty moved to Oxford and then Leeds, where she worked in a munitions factory while John served in the army. They returned to London after the end of the conflict, and brought up three children, Benny, Maureen and me. Beatty spent much of her working life as an overlocker in a men’s trouser factory just off Hackney Road.

My father was also active in the the Labour party, becoming a councillor and in 1966 mayor of Tower Hamlets, with Beatty as the mayoress. When he died in 1972, my mother became a councillor in her own right for 10 years. She also volunteered, helping to run the Friendship Club at the Collingwood estate in Bethnal Green, where she lived for 66 years, until she was 99.

In her mid-80s she became a member of the Brenner Stepney Jewish community centre, in Bethnal Green, which is run by Jewish Care. Physical ill-health prevented her attending from 2020 onwards, but friends, staff and volunteers visited her at home, where her children took turns to support her.

Beatty is survived by her children, 12 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great grandchildren.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/aug/30/beatty-orwell-obituary Beatty Orwell obituary | Local politics

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