Last Word

Anne Scott  Not so many years ago, when Anne and I were on a ULEMHAS holiday in Rome, we took the advantage of an afternoon off to revisit the Forum. As we strolled over the less interesting, and consequently almost deserted, Roman debris, I remarked, rather patronisingly as it seems now, that one of our co-travellers was a ‘game old bird’. Anne’s reply stuck with me “I don’t want to be a game old bird – I want to be – ‘magnificent’ ” – and I really think she was.

Anne became Chairman of ULEMHAS (our former name) at very short notice when the current incumbent resigned. She had been on the Committee for little over a year having been recommended for the post of Study Events Organiser by John McNeill, our current co-Vice President, whose Birkbeck course she was attending. Anne was an experienced administrator and in no time at all she had sorted out the bookings, tidied up the records and set about recruiting new people on to the Committee. Wherever she was, at summer schools or conferences or lectures, she was eyeing up the talent. She lassoed our current Chairman and Tour Organiser among others at such events, and by 2004 was able to hand over a well-organised and thriving Society to her successor. She did not retire into the background; she continued to sit on the Review Committee and became a prime mover in the new projects that were started – the short courses, the website and the expansion of our overseas trips. She was particularly happy to arrange our study tours, settling down with timetables, restaurant guides and all possible versions of TripAdvisor to ensure that participants arrived on time, had a good night’s sleep and were fed well.

Anne was not what she seemed, a Kensington lady pursuing a spot of culture in her spare time. She was born in Fiji, to a colonial administrator father, and was sent to boarding school in Britain when she was just eleven with her eight-year-old brother, and did not see her parents for four years. She seemed to have developed into a person with an active sense of social justice which manifested itself early during the war, in which she served as a Wren, when she led a revolt against the Officers’ Mess appropriating the “other rank” Wrens’ butter ration. She won against the entrenched hierarchy of the Royal Navy and it set the pattern for a career devoted to fighting to right what she perceived as unfairness. In particular her active sense of moral duty led her to help those who through poverty and misfortune were unable to cope with their lives. She started by being attached to Hammersmith County School as a social worker to help with difficult children. One of our members who was starting her teaching career there remembers Mrs Scott as being highly effective with the problem children, being both clear-eyed and empathetic, and equally admired by colleagues and those she helped. She continued this work in Kensington and Chelsea and was awarded the MBE for her services. Her understanding of how hard it is for those who are overwhelmed by the difficulties life piles upon them and her sense of social justice led her to the local committee of Mencap, and from there she helped to set up a supported living project which, under the name of Equal People, still runs a centre in Kensington devoted to helping those with learning disabilities to live independently and equally with their fellow citizens.

Few people knew the extent of her work in helping others and simply saw a woman who enjoyed her life in the pretty terraced house in Notting Hill which she and her husband bought when the area was not as fashionable as it is now. She was a notable cook and enjoyed entertaining as much as she enjoyed travelling and visiting the theatre and the opera. It was when she became a widow that she decided to go to Birkbeck and pursue her interest in the history of art. Although open to all aspects of the subject she did have her favourites: Venetian painters, particularly Bellini, English watercolours and late Romanesque/Early Gothic architecture. She had a very discerning eye and her perception of architecture was notable. Indeed, having written a piece on the geometry of Bourges for the ULEMHAS Review – as it was in 2003 – she found herself targeted by a hopeful American scholar anxious to discuss her theories.

Anne brought her experience in solving problems and dealing with people to her work with the Society and much of our current success is due to her initiatives. She died full of years and honour surrounded by her large and loving family and while we can celebrate a long life well lived, we still miss her sorely. Jacqueline Leigh

Norman Yeadon’s long and eventful life began on 14th May 1924. He had a slightly older brother, Michael, and the two boys were soon joined by a younger sister, Audrey. His father, though still in his thirties, occupied a senior position in the Post Office, but an idyllic childhood ended, cruelly early, when his father died suddenly of heart disease. His mother could not cope – Audrey was sent to relatives, but Michael and Norman found themselves in a children’s home far away in the North of England, where they spent several years.

The family was reunited when their mother remarried – her second husband being apparently an admirably open-hearted man who, unfortunately, was not well placed to provide for his new family, which became even larger when half-sister Shirley arrived. Norman’s teens were spent working, like his stepfather, as a farm labourer.

Salvation came from the unlikely direction of the Post Office, where Norman’s father seems to have been well remembered.  He was taken on as a trainee, and pursued a successful career there until his retirement in 1984. There was a break for wartime service; the Royal Corps of Signals recognised his skill in communications, and he was posted to Egypt. His time there may well have sparked the interest in the ancient world that became such an important part of his life (in his spare time he mastered both ancient and modern Greek).

Marriage came too late in life for children, but in marriage, as in everything, his judgment was impeccable. He and Betty enjoyed travelling together, and both welcomed retirement as an opportunity to pursue their interest unconstrained by the demands of work. Sadly, bad luck struck again; first Betty, then brother Michael, died before their time. With characteristic determination, Norman turned his concentration on to the study of art history. He soon acquired a reputation as a safe and willing pair of hands, serving as Membership Secretary of ULEMHAS, the forerunner of The London Art History Society, from 1989-1991. He was the Society’s Treasurer from 1992-1996, and remained as a Committee member until 1998. Until he was past ninety years of age, when a severe stroke robbed him of his mobility, he was as active, enthusiastic, and scholarly as ever.

There can be few members of either Society over the past thirty years or so who did not know Norman – and all of us respected and admired him. He was an exceptional man who made a great contribution to our Society. David Culver