Memorial for Dame Anne Warburton

I have just returned from the College’s celebration of the life of my predecessor Dame Anne Warburton. As my last formal duty as President I had organised the event so that speakers would talk on different facets of Dame Anne’s extraordinary life:  her time as the first woman British ambassador, her period as president of Lucy Cavendish College–with all the building and developments she inaugurated–and her activity as UN investigator of rape as a weapon of war in Bosnia.  Sir Richard Dales spoke of her as a diplomat and began the theme, which I had already touched on, of Dame Anne as a formidable woman, large in every sense of the word, and yet also supportive and kindly when appropriate. He reminded us all of the difficulties facing a woman in public life so short a time ago. Dr Jane Renfrew  and Lady Perry (the president following Dame Anne) spoke of her huge achievements in getting the college recognised and respected within the university and nationally.  Family members came from the States and Australia to attend this memorial to their  remarkable relative and Beth Duncombe gave a very moving talk  about what she had meant to them and about her brave work in exposing the horrors of crimes against women in war-torn Bosnia    A great niece read a poem Dame Anne valued and, although she was not religious, we  sang two hymns that she liked and wanted sung at her memorial service.I have come away with a far clearer sense than before of a woman i knew only in her final years but whom I visited with great pleasure in her beautiful country house in Suffolk. It was mentioned in passing that she rejected the label feminist. But if she wasn’t a feminist, I for one do not know what a feminist is. she was a very gallant lady.