Maisie was born in Bermondsey in 1927 at a time when it was a poor working-class district and Dr Alfred Salter and his wife Ada were active in the area working to improve the health and well-being of the local population. Maisie remembered Dr Salter and his tireless work. She, too, went on to become a tireless campaigner for social justice and peace all her life and was involved in many organisations including the Communist Party, the Labour Party, the NUT, Merton and Sutton Trades Council, Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and CND. Maisie taught for many years at The Priory School in Queen’s Road, Wimbledon and combined her professional life with campaigning and bringing up two boys, Mick and Stephen.
Maisie, with Joanna Bazley, was a founder member of Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND in the 1980s during the Cruise missile crisis, which brought a general resurgence of peace activity. Maisie was involved in all the activities of the group and was a longstanding member of the committee, for many years as the Chair.
She and Joanna were very much the driving force behind the annual fund-raising event, the Fête of the Earth. Maisie would arrive with her car so full of bric-à-brac it was impossible to think we could possibly get rid of it all. She was often to be found selling raffle tickets or latterly behind the stall selling CND merchandise. After she was no longer able to attend the Sidmouth Folk Festival, where she had been instrumental in setting up an annual Hiroshima Day commemoration, she joined our annual gathering by Rushmere Pond on 6th August, and, with great effort and help from friends, was there in August 2022. She attended our weekly Vigil for Peace outside Wimbledon Library handing out leaflets and engaging with passersby, from its inception after 9/11 in 2001 until the pandemic finally brought it to an end.
In the early 1990s we organised the planting of a Japanese cherry tree in Cannizaro Park, to commemorate those who died in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A replacement tree was planted in 2015, and at Maisie’s instigation a new plaque was put up in 2019, to replace the original which had been stolen. She always took part in the annual Remembrance Day commemoration and after the main event would read a suitable piece of poetry.
Maisie had many interests outside of campaigning for good causes. Among other things she enjoyed trips to the theatre and cinema, reading and poetry. Although in the last few years she was dogged by ill-health, she would still turn out for leafleting or the Peace Table, often looking rather fragile, but this was deceptive: she could still vigorously engage members of the public in discussion and stand up powerfully for the ideals in which she believed. Her contribution to the local peace movement was immense and her influence was felt far beyond Wimbledon. Maisie was an inspiration, and a wonderful person — she will be much missed by all of us.
Maisie’s family has organized a celebration of her life on Saturday 10th June. You should have received an invitation. If not, please contact Alison Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1980, the Government’s Protect and Survive leaflet really got things going, and Cruise missiles ramped that up in 1983 when we all dressed in bin bags outside what is now Centre Court. I recall there had been a long debate about the group name until our current one was agreed, bringing together several organisations. I’m not sure when my dad took the Chair, but at that time Maisie was always a presence though she was very actively involved in so many other organisations.
As a young woman Maisie was very sociable and held exciting parties in her house in Aylward Road while her children were very small, especially firework parties with lots of people of all ages. My mum and dad (Don and Muriel Wood) were among those attending. We children went along with our mum and Maisie when they were delivering the Daily Worker. Not as much fun as the parties!
However, the Daily Worker (later Morning Star) Christmas Bazaar was a most wonderful party-like event. It was held in the Co-op hall in Morden, next to where Sainsbury’s is now. Maisie led the event and the hall was brightly decorated with bunting and balloons, and her lovely, friendly mum was there too.
Many years later, when Maisie was a teacher at Priory Middle School, she allowed me to do my research as a student teacher in her classroom. The vibe of the classroom, relaxed, friendly, creative and fair, felt so special, just how a classroom should be, and a perfect reflection of Maisie!
Tony Papard, one of our WDC/CND members, worked at the head office of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from 1962 to 1968, at the time when it moved from its early origins as a mass movement to a smaller pressure group. His book —“Campaign H.Q: the Inside Story of CND Head Office in the mid-1960s”— is currently available from Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing in paperback or e-book format. It has a 5-star rating. This review is offered for the perspective it gives on our campaign today at another time of transition, when CND no longer holds mass demonstrations on its own but in partnership with other organisations.
The changes Tony describes occurred after the partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and then the election of a Labour government in 1964, which gave many CND supporters the hope that working inside the Labour Party was the best way to achieve nuclear disarmament, rather than mass demonstrations. CND national membership was introduced for the first time, mainly to put the Campaign on a sound financial footing.
Tony tells the story of the early, chaotic days of CND. He describes the personalities and characters who worked there on a paid or voluntary basis, and some of the early supporters who had contact with the head office. Then he covers a change of address and how the staff were affected when the main driving force, the highly-energized, chain-smoking Organising Secretary Peggy Duff, left. The Campaign then settled down to a slower pace as a political pressure group.
As we know, many of us from direct experience, CND went on to renewed mass demonstrations in the late 1970s and 1980s. We remember the “Maggie Maggie Maggie—Out Out Out” chants and coach trips to Greenham Common rather than Lakenheath.
In 2023 most of the world is signed up to the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, save for those states which actually have them. Russia is making lightly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons while the US and the UK in particular are arming Ukraine to what they hope will be a safe limit. The nuclear danger competes for concern with the climate crisis, mass migration and the cost of living. Can CND grow a coalition to match that of Extinction Rebellion’s Big One and get us back from the brink?
On the sunny morning of Saturday 20th May, Sue Jones and I joined the CND coach travelling from London to Lakenheath. Tony Papard from the group was also on board. After a delayed departure, there was a further delay as we made a detour to pick up the CND staff and equipment from the Holloway Road office, whose minibus had broken down. When we finally arrived, other protesters from Derby, Nottingham and elsewhere were already at the main gate of the base, attaching banners to the fence and waiting for the event to start. Altogether there were several hundred demonstrators.
Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, opened the proceedings with the story of the Doomsday Clock, which currently stands at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been. The clock is set every year by the Science and Security Board of Atomic Scientists and the hand moves closer or further away from midnight depending on their perceived danger of nuclear war. The war in Ukraine and other dangers such as climate change have pushed the minute hand the closest it has ever been to global catastrophe.
All the speakers spoke of the current international risk, especially the danger created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the importance of continuing to campaign against nuclear weapons and the deployment of US nuclear bombs and aircraft in Europe. RAF Lakenheath was the site of 110 nuclear bombs until 2008 when, following persistent protest, they were removed. They must not be allowed to return and the protests will continue until our voice is heard.
This will be held on Sunday 16th July 12·30–3pm at 20 Midmoor Road, SW19 4JD (off Worple Road). Please bring food and drink to share. We are currently reviewing the feasibility of continuing WDC/CND, so more than ever it is vital that as many members as possible attend.
We need volunteers/nominations for the following posts, which are the minimum needed to keep the group functioning: Chair, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Minutes Secretary, Newsletter Editor and London CND Rep. To get involved, please contact email@example.com.
The chilly evening of 21st March saw my first protest outside the US Embassy in Vauxhall. I had only ever walked past the old Embassy in Mayfair as I am too young to have gone on Anti-Vietnam War protests. I would say that there were fifty or sixty people at the protest which was coordinated by London CND, to highlight the proposed siting of US nuclear warheads at RAF Lakenheath. I am not convinced of the efficacy of having the protest in the evening as we did not seem to get many passers-by or embassy staff leaving work for the day. However this made it possible for people to attend after work. My thanks go to Martin Birdseye who provided me with a Christian CND placard, which led to me being photographed by numerous people (including some students from Goldsmiths doing a project).
Though some people have expressed disappointment with the numbers I was pleased to see so many different groups present. It was encouraging to see that Norwich were present, as they are the group closest to RAF Lakenheath.
There were a number of speakers of varying quality though I found little said that was new but some of it was worth repeating. Sadly, some seemed to go off topic which I think weakens our arguments. My view regarding missiles at Lakenheath is that Brexit was supposed to be concerned about taking back control of our borders, yet there has been little or no discussion of this situation in Parliament.
On 22nd April, Musicians for Peace & Disarmament returned to St Mary’s Church, Barnes for a concert entitled Quintets for Piano and Wind by Beethoven and Mozart, (plus other pieces by a variety of other composers). Although only about 50–60 people attended, everyone I spoke to seemed to enjoy themselves and a number came from across London as well as the neighbouring Kingston Peace Council.
Additionally, the concert had been publicised to members of the parish, and several were in attendance. This got me wondering how many CND and other peace movement events are made known to members of the general public.
Though not an aficionado and thus unable to comment critically on the music I enjoyed the concert very much and whole heartedly recommend MPD’s concerts in the future. It should not be forgotten that all their performers are professional and they encompass a wide variety of musical genres.
As a membership organisation they are always looking for people to pay £10 per year to join them. That said, in our more straitened times you may wish to join their email list for free.
For more information please see http://www.mpdconcerts.org/
Aiming to reignite the Peace Movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, Veterans for Peace have recovered and restored the original peace ship, the Golden Rule, which set sail in 1958 to stop nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands. Legal actions against the crew prevented their reaching their destination but the publicity associated with their efforts managed to spark an upsurge of opposition to nuclear testing, leading to the adoption of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
The restored ship is sailing again inspiring and educating the public about the need to abolish nuclear weapons. Last autumn she reached a wide area of the southern and western United States, her most notable stop being in Dubuque, Iowa, where a significant community of Marshall Islanders have settled. Sailboats escorted her into the harbour for a grand entrance and Marshallese women, in traditional dress, sang sweet harmonies of welcome. The experience left the crew and observers in tears, moved by the reaction of a community whose homeland had been used 67 times as a nuclear testing site, leaving some islands poisoned and a trail of cancer.
This year she is travelling up the east coast and will reach New England in June. A Veterans for Peace member who once patrolled the Caribbean aboard the USS Okinawa during the Cuban Missile Crisis believes the ship still has a story to tell, particularly as the threat of a nuclear exchange between Russia, the USA and NATO grows amid current fighting in Ukraine: “I support the mission of today’s Golden Rule, which is to inform and educate people and to ‘sound the alarm’ that we must act now to protect our planet and humanity.”