Tuesday, October 12, 2010

RIP Claire Rayner - and thanks for all the things you brought into the open

It was sad to wake up to this tweet from Jay Rayner, the Observer's food critic much feared by Masterchef contestants:
My dear old mum, Claire Rayner, died yesterday aged 79. I, like so many others, will miss her terribly.
I was reminded of this incredibly moving article in which he wrote of finding out  the extent of the incredible cruelty inflicted on her by her parents. Her long marriage and close family life show how that sort of damage can be turned around if never  forgotten. He and all of his family have my sympathy today.

I remember the name Claire Rayner from reading baby books when my sister was born in the mid 70s. As I grew older, I really appreciated how she was prepared to lift up the carpet and take out all the things we repressed British swept under there and just didn't talk about. Just a few examples are sex education, standing up for mothers building relationships with their midwives during pregnancy, openly discussing Depression and its effect on the individual and their family, something she knew only too well. She did so much to encourage openness about mental health issues to promote understanding.

Articles by Claire, one of the nation's favourite treasures, have been prominent in Liberal Democrat election magazines and newspapers over the past 9 years. She realised relatively early on in Labour's term of office that they were selling out on their principles and the issue that drove her out was free care as she wrote for the Independent at the time.

She was motivated by compassion and kindness and did so much to ensure that patients were taken into the health service equation. She wanted treatment to be something patients had a say in and were informed about, not something that was simply done to them by people who knew better.

She was feisty and didn't take any nonsense - and her last words as reported by her family show a fighting spirit right to the end:
"Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him."

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