Lord Ashley of Stoke

The family have created this site to celebrate the life of Jack Ashley.

The text of the tributes to Jack, made at a memorial to celebrate his life is available here: Read Transcript 

On July 1st 2013, the Speaker of the House of Commons hosted the first Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture at Parliament. The lecture was given by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, paralympic champion and disability campaigner.

The thousands of tributes that have flooded in since he died on April 20th 2012 reflect something of how many lives he touched. Throughout his life Jack was a tireless fighter against injustice.  And by overcoming his own disability, he inspired others. This website aims to provide a  lasting testament to his life and achievements.

To read the many tributes from friends and colleagues, scroll down this page.

To contribute to his legacy through a donation, visit the Donation page for links to three charities that he championed.

And please do pass this website address to others who may be interested.

Thank you
Jackie, Jane and Caroline Ashley

156 thoughts on “Lord Ashley of Stoke”

  1. Dad was the bravest, most determined and most compassionate man. Despite total deafness and the torment of tinnitus he never stopped fighting for his causes, wanting to amplify the voices of those who are ignored. He and our wonderful late mother Pauline made a formidable team, and we are immensely proud of all they achieved. Dad had an extraordinary ability to connect with people wherever he went, bringing smiles and laughter with his mischievous sense of humour. He had so much love for those around him and was devoted to his family. He was glad to be nicknamed ‘That Bloody Jack Ashley’ – the one that Ministers and those in authority could not ignore. What a life lived, what a gap is left. We’ll miss him so much.

  2. Jack was a truly remarkable man, overcoming challenges that would have defeated most of us to change life for millions of people. He had a unique combination of compassion, determination, charm and intellect which meant that he didn’t just highlight injustice, he tackled it head on. Typically, when he realised how medical research could transform life for deaf people and how neglected it was, he set out to change things, working with Pauline to establish Deafness Research UK. Today, everyone at the charity feels immensely proud to be continuing Jack’s work, albeit in a small way. He will be much missed and there will be many tributes, all well deserved. The charity’s tribute is at http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/

  3. As a Grandfather he taught me everything. From how to kick a rugby ball, to how i should never give up. I remember him shuffling around the the garden to play football with his grandsons, and i remember him telling me that the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. Until reading these tributes, i never quite realised how many people he influenced and inspired, he was just Grandad to me. Knowing that he changed so many lives for the better is an incredible feeling and it leaves me bursting with pride. His campaigning and charity work has provided support and a lifeline for so many victims all over the country. The world is definitely a worse place without him, on so many levels, as a Grandfather, as a Dad, as a politician and as a human being. Rest in peace Grandad.

  4. My Grandad was a inspiration for many people across the world – including me. He fought for what was right and he fought hard. I remember playing so much cricket and football in our garden in Tunisia – often with him and his walking stick. Two months ago me and my brothers were playing a ball game we made up with him, in our lounge. You had a great life Grandad, and you’ll be missed very much.

  5. Grandad was the most incredible person I have ever met. He taught me how to make the most out of life and that anyone, no matter where they come from or who they are, can make a huge difference. As a person and as a grandfather, I have admired him for many years, whether that be playing football in the garden or him telling me to never give up, no matter what happens. It wasn’t until recently that I realised just how important and respected he was as a politician and as a campaigner. The thousands of incredible tributes that I have seen over the last few days make me so proud of him and to think how many people’s lives he has changed for the better is amazing. The world has lost an incredible man and someone that is impossible to replace. Sleep well Grandad

  6. Grandad was always looking for the best for everyone. Even though he was deaf he always kept doing what was right. I remember when me and my brother where play fighting and Grandad always told us to stop.

  7. As a young campaigner Jack Ashley was one of the people I admired most, so getting to work with him through RNID / Action on Hearing Loss was a dream come true. His passion and commitment came through in everything he did and he wasn’t shy in telling me and the other campaigners how to do our job better! We didn’t mind, we knew we were learning from the best. We’ll miss you Jack.

  8. Grandad was a one-off. It is no surprise that the combination of extraordinary determination, an incredible ability to get on with people, and a fiery hatred of injustice overcame deafness to achieve more than anyone could have imagined. The recent tributes which confirm that Grandad lived a meaningful, immensely fulfilling life that undoubtedly changed the world for the better turn some of the sadness into pride. But what consoles me the most is that someone so deserving, someone who gave so much, was surrounded by the most loving family imaginable throughout; his exceptional wife, Pauline, not only the rock of his life but the rock of the entire family, his adoring daughters and his admiring grandchildren. It was with joy that we attempted the impossible task of showing him the same level of love and support that he showed us. Thanks to him, society is an immeasurably better place, not only in terms of the millions of lives lived more happily – through each of which he lives on – but in its very atmosphere. He is irreplaceable, and will never be forgotten.

  9. I was saddened to read of the death of Lord Ashley at the weekend. He was the most extraordinary disability rights campaigner and activist. I had the privilege of working for Jack Ashley as I was the research assistant to Parliament’s All Party Disability Group from 1988 – 1991 which Jack chaired. Jack led the All Party group’s opposition to many of the disability benefit changes being proposed by the Government of the time. The work by Jack and the rest of the All Party Group working in a cross party manner, led to the introduction of the independent living fund and also safeguarding some of the benefits which were then at risk of cuts. It is sad to see that all these years later many of the same battles are being fought to safeguard some of the same disability benefits – hard won battles meaning that the disability movement just has to fight to keep still. Jack Ashley’s work was an inspiration to us all and changed and touched the lives of many.

  10. He inspired me from a young age that Deafness did not have to exclude you – Indeed he showed me that you could rise above the crowd if you believed in yourself.

    My careers adviser told me I should aim to be a Shelf Stacker in the new Supermarkets opening up everywhere.

    Instead I ran away to London – Worked in Cinemas rising to Manager, then a career as a TV producer and worked at three of the biggest Advertising Agency’s in the world.
    I set up a Laser Company with 9 staff and fired lasers down Oxford St, and off Canary Wharf Tower and many other huge displays.
    I co-founded the Terrence Higgins Trust Europe’s largest sexual Health Charity.
    I taught computer graphics at Thames Valley University and I haven’t stopped yet 😉

    RIP Jack Ashley – Thank you, You inspired me.

  11. It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Rt Hon Lord Ashley of Stoke CH. Jack Ashley was a founding member, chair and then President of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group, one of the oldest and largest All-Party Groups.

    Jack Ashley was an outstanding parliamentarian and champion of disability and human rights. By speaking out powerfully against discrimination and neglect and campaigning for an equal society, Jack changed the lives of many disabled people and enabled them to lead fulfilling lives. Thanks to his efforts, human rights and non-discrimination legislation and measures to end disability poverty were introduced whilst he raised a greater awareness of disability equality across the whole spectrum of government policy.

    As a deaf parliamentarian he paved the way for disabled people to become leaders and spokespersons in our democracy. He demonstrated that it is often a matter of attitude to break down barriers to political participation.

    Jack Ashley strongly believed in the importance of MPs meeting with disabled people. At our reception in October he sent a message in which he once again emphasised how meetings between disabled people and their MPs can lead to a transformation in both the lives of disabled people, peers and MPs.

    The APPDG is very much indebted to Lord Ashley and we owe it to him to defend his legacy and carry the torch towards full equality for disabled people in all corners of society.

  12. Jack Ashley was an inspiration to the many disabled people up and down the country. His effortless work and obvious understanding towards the many disabled in this country, will be sadly missed. We need more representation like him within politics.

    My condolences to his family and friends. RIP Jack Ashley.

  13. Lord Ashley was an inspiration. I have had hearing difficulties for many years, and three years ago I became suddenly severly deafened overnight. When I saw how he had, in so many many ways overcame the many barriers to deafness, his example encouraged me. Of course he will be missed by family and friend, but he will be fondly remembered by many who never met him, yet will never forget his spirit, determination and braveness. A great man My condolences go to his family who will miss him, yet must be deeply proud of him. .

  14. Strong confident patriot of the disabled. He will be strongly missed. RIP Lord Ashley and thank you for giving me the inspiration and confident to succeed as a disable teacher. http://bit.ly/JD2g83

  15. Lord Ashley has been a formidable campaigner for disabled people and disability rights. As a deaf parliamentarian he transformed politics and placed disabled people’s right to choice and control at the very heart of the political debate. It is his spirit that we aim to bear out through our work. We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family and close friends

  16. The first time I had lunch with Jack in the House of Lords, he said “you’re Jackie and I am Jack so although you used to be a Liberal and I’m Labour we’re going to get along”. I am proud to have known Jack – an inspirational campaigner, a hugely compassionate and caring man and someone who was always secure in the knowledge that he was surrounded by so much love.

    He leaves behind the sort of legacy for people who are deaf, disabled or disadvantaged in any way which few people could aspire to. He will be remembered for many years to come and his passing is indeed a sad, sad day.

    Sincere condolences to all his family and friends – you have known and loved a real gem.

  17. Everyone who knew Jack knew that he was a real gentleman, so very kind, giving, and interested in everyone he met.

    A champion for people who were marginalised, Jack had a prolific career both before and after he lost his hearing. It was at the age of 45 that he experienced first-hand the isolation that deafness can bring and, typically, he chose to tackle the challenge head on.

    Sitting first on the benches of the Commons, and then the House of Lords, Jack famously relied on his wife, Pauline, to repeat to him all the words spoken in the chamber. This intensely personal experience was the catalyst for his successful campaign to get live captioning on television.

    Jack was, in every sense, a trailblazer for people with hearing loss. He campaigned tirelessly for people to be given equal access to products and services. And he became a great and universally respected role model. We have been overwhelmed by the calls, emails, tweets and posts describing the impact Jack made on so many people’s lives.

    Action on Hearing Loss, (previously RNID), was delighted when Jack agreed to become our President in 1987. Over more than 20 years, Jack always demonstrated a keen interest in our work and our campaigns. He will be greatly missed. Read more about Jack and his work for us at http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk

  18. Since uncle Jack’s death, much has been said about his being ‘the peoples’ champion’ , an ‘outstanding parliamentarian’, a ‘formidable campaigner’ etc. All of which was true, but Jack was also a devoted family man. My mother used to say that when their father (my grandad) died, Jack became the father of the household; it was his job to take care of his mother (my nana) and sisters and for which they idolised him.
    Even later, when he had his own wife and children, he was still committed to this responsibility and helped his mother and siblings and their families in any way he could. Every Xmas he brought his family to Widnes to share in the festivities. Indeed, that dreadful Christmas of 1967, having had an operation to repair a perforated ear, and still being full of a cold, Jack still insisted in travelling to Widnes to see his beloved mam and sisters. He listened to the Queens Speech as he usually did, had a nap and awoke to total deafness.
    How proud we, the family are of Jack for what he has achieved in both his working life and for having such character to overcome his deafness. You have been and always will be a great inspiration to us all Jack, and will be sorely missed.
    Elaine Sydney

  19. “Deeply saddened by the passing of Lord Jack Ashley. His contribution to public life cannot be overstated. He was a truly fine man, with many qualities missing from today’s politicians – most notably compassion.

    I interviewed Lord Ashley in June 2008 at the House of Lords for a BBC Radio Wales programme – Thalidomide 50 years on. When I met up with Lord Ashley to interview him, I was fascinated to see so many mobility scooters in the foyer at the Lords. Jack came to meet me (together with my husband Stephen – who is also Thalidomide impaired – and my production colleague Daniel Jenkins-Jones) on one such scooter. He took us to the meeting room just a little way down from the Upper House, and we needed to cross Abingdon Street to Millbank. Such was the sight of a peer of the realm, with books and papers precariously balanced in the scooter basket, followed by two wheelchair users and a producer who, only days before had injured his back; that it inspired thoughts of an “Abbey Road” moment. So taken was I with this image, that I commissioned Eddie Freeman to produce a cartoon of the moment. The cartoon has a special place in my office, and its significance is now heightened even more.

    RMS Abbey Road Moment Cartoon

    The last occasion we met was at a function at Lincoln’s Inn in September 2010. Although much frailer, he had lost none of his passion in fighting for disability rights generally and more specifically for Thalidomide impaired people and their families. Most recently he pledged his support for our campaign to have a Thalidomide Memorial Plaque erected in London. For all of this, we have to be very grateful.

    He will be sadly missed by all those who had the honour of knowing him, and having enjoyed his mischievous sense of humour.

    The corridors of power will be a lesser place for his passing, but his contribution in improving the lives of those who sought his help will, I have absolutely no doubt, resound through the Palace of Westminster and beyond, for many years.”

    Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds

  20. Jack will always be remembered by the founding member of our Society Margaret Grant MBE for helping one of members in the Stoke on Trent area as her daughter had been refused a national health wheelchair and some other allowances, thankfully Jack went on to help that mother and other members of our Society in its early years. We were saddened to hear of his passing, disability rights have lost a great campaigner not only for deaf people but for other disabilities as well. RIP jack you will never be forgotten. May you always find rest and hearing in heaven.

  21. My Heart and thoughts go with you Jack a guy who fought tirelessly for Deafened people, I myself Am Totally Deaf with Loud Tinnitus in both ears you inspired me.

    Wishes to family.

  22. I was truly saddened to hear of the death of such a wonderful man as Lord Ashley. I am a Thalidomider and I will always be very grateful for all he did for us. I met Jack twice, but not as a Thalidomider but as a disabled person fighting for our rights I honestly believe that without Jack’s help and undaunted spirit we as disabled people would still be fighting for a DDA. Thank you Jack and I must also say thank you to his family for sharing him with so many people, I hope you realise what an inspiration he was to many and will continue to be, what he did for his fellow disabled people will go down in history and be remembered for ever. Goodbye Jack rest in peace and once again thank you, from the bottom of my heart xx

  23. Yes… a big gap is left. As a Thalidomide person I have always viewed Lord Ashley as my disability role model. Act with dignity, be practical and don’t take no for an answer. I will always remember him and am very sorry that I never got to meet him. I wish his family all the best.

  24. I met Lord Ashley only once in the House of Lord and am leaving this tribute on behalf of a dear friend who passed before him, Baroness Nicola Jane Chapman. Nicky held Lord Ashley in the highest respect and told me on countless occasions what a wonderful man he was, both to the disabled community and more generally as a person. I can only hope his legacy lives on in everyone’s lives he touched.

  25. As an audiologist working with the deaf and hard of hearing, but particularly with those suffering with tinnitus, Jack Ashley was an example to us all and an inspiration for those people who felt disability was a disadvantage. He led a full and active life despite his disability and was a shining example for us to use with those patients who felt their life was over once they were diagnosed with deafness/tinnitus. He will continue to be a shining light in the field of hearing loss and tinnitus and will be sorely missed. RIP Jack. Your family should be very proud xx

  26. Grandad will always be an inspiration to me. He showed everyone the utmost respect and took on everything he did in life with bravery and compassion, qualities that so many aspire to have.
    The amazing number of tributes to his name have fully made me realise the impression he made on this world and how he stopped at nothing to improve the lives of others. I feel so privileged to be his grandaughter and know that the world is a better place for him being a part of it. I could not be more proud. Rest in peace grandad, you will always be remembered.

  27. Jack was one of those people you could just talk to without airs and graces. A campaigner on the rights of disabled people. The world will be a worse place without him. Thanks Jack for all you did RIP

  28. Jack led a wonderful life. I have suffered from tinnitus for a long time. The was a real inspiration in many ways. May he rest in peace.

  29. He was the strongest example of the life-force I’ve ever met, the centre of every roomful with a restless energy that took him from childhood in Widnes to his final years, still insisting on trying to walk, talk and even campaign when anyone else would have given up. Alongside the unique campaigner who reminds us what MPs, and the rest of us, can do if we really set our minds to it, we’re going to miss his physical presence a lot – everything from his ferocious family loyalty, his enthusiasm for ‘Dads Army’, rugby league and snooker, bacon-and-eggs… to his constant, generally very bad, jokes. A chunk of granite in a soggy world.

  30. On behalf of the member of the Thalidomide Society, I would like to express our sadness on hearing of the death of Lord Ashley. Members will always remember him with gratitude and affection for all he did for the thalidomide family. R.I.P.

  31. Being the only boy in a close family group of 10 children, I had a special relationship with Uncle Jack. From an early age I remember how, on his regular trips to Widnes, he would love to get the whole family together and organise fun games for the kids. Jack always took time to see me and regularly challenged me to whatever game he could think up, including tennis and snooker which he always enjoyed. Jack was an inspiration throughout my life, from his time at the BBC (remarkable for a boy who left school at 14), election as an MP, his bravery and determination after becoming deaf, and campaigns for the disabled and disadvantaged.

    I will always remember Jack as being deeply interested in people and having the passion and drive to make a real difference, but most of all I will remember him as an inspirational uncle it was a joy to be with.

  32. I meet Lord Ashley only once but he left a real impression on me. A lovely man with real integrity and a quiet but driven demeanour. As a disabled person myself working on disability issues, Jack was a real inspiration, he invited me to tea at the Lords I am so sad I never made time to take him up on it. I feel his legacy will be felt for a long time.

  33. Much has been and will be said and written about Jack Ashley’s exceptional carreer as a parliamentarian and campaigner. But I also want to remember his deep kindness and thoughtfullness to everyone he met, including me. He was and remains an inspiration and although I didn’t meet him regularly, I will miss him.

  34. I was never lucky enought to meet Lord Ashley, but as a disabled person campaigner myself, I found him a great inspiration. We were lucky to have him fighting on our behalf and the legislation that he fought to establish has made a huge impact on disabled people’s lives.

  35. I have been fortunate enough to have met Jack Ashley twice in my life, I remember him as a laughing, smiling person who one feels one has known forever! A slight glint in his eye – a tiny sign of the powerful and determined man who wouldn’t take “no” as an answer.

    The disability rights world has lost one of it’s best…

    To Jack’s family, my deepest condolences.

    Jack Ashley will never be forgotten.

  36. Grandad truly was a real-life hero. He tackled injustice with a seemingly superhuman strength, courage, and desire to do good. He has become more than just an inspiration to me: he is the impossible standard of kindness to which I can only hope to try and live up to. Reading the many ways in which he touched people’s lives leaves me bursting with pride: he was a man of such decency and integrity, who gave a voice to those who could not speak for themselves. But it is the fond recollection of his warm, cheeky grin, his mischievous sense of humour and his devotion to his family that most powerfully encapsulate my wonderful Grandad. The world was a happier place because of him, and can’t possibly be the same without him.

    Goodbye Grandad, we love you.

  37. Thank you for you campaigning for the rights of thousands of disabled people and becoming the voice of us all. You helped to change attitudes which was for the better. You were a gentleman and you will always be remmebered. My heart goes outthoughts are with your family.

  38. Jack was an inspiration. I respected him massively and when I became disabled I looked to what Jack had achieved with his determination and drive to spur me on. He will be missed very much.

  39. Uncle jack was one of the greatest men I have ever known, an inspiration to all that knew him and also many that didn’t. He touched countless lives with his work and changed the world for disabled people. He showed me that anything is possible if you believe in it and to come from Widnes and be as successful as he is a testament to his character.
    He helped me and my family in a way it is impossible to describe and for that I am eternally thankful. We also had a good and equal understanding on sporting matters and he taught me a lot when it came to technique and mental preparation. He taught me how to play snooker as well, up to the point where I could actually beat him which although must have frustrated him, he did not show it.
    You will be sorely missed by the whole family and it is an honour to have been part of your family. We’ll see you when we get there. love Jamie

  40. My thoughts about Jack –

    Jack was to me a life saver. He and Pauline were so much help to me when threatened with eviction all those years ago. With the help and advice from your Dad and mum, I spent 5 years battling with the Royal Bank of Scotland to protect my home for me and Jamie and Lucy.
    Your dad wrote letter after letter, in very strong terms and your mum gave me all the support she could with advice, guidance and how to fight on regardless.
    They were both a very strong influence on me and I feel that I have the Ashley spirit which comes also from my mum and nana. Nanna struggled for many years to keep her family together as a single parent and I’m sure that her determination to provide was instilled in Jack from a very early age.
    Over the years I have wonderful memories of Jack and Pauline, our days out, with Pauline and her backpack of sandwiches, trooping along in Kew Gardens, Ham House, Leeds Castle. We went everywhere, even when Lucy was in a wheelchair, after a horse had stood on her foot and she was all strapped up. We have lovely photos, with everyone wearing the official Ashley sunhats!
    I always remember whenever Jack came home; I would go straight to the market to Middleton butcher and get a rack of ribs to go with cabbage and potatoes, one of Jack’s favourites or Mum would make a big pan of scouse – another favourite. Lucy remembers him as being the only person she knows who had oranges for breakfast with most of the juice over his white shirt.
    Jack was an inspiration for good and will be remembered for fighting injustice wherever he found it. He touched the lives of so many people, many of whom he will never know. A colleague of mine’s husband was deaf, blind and she was struggling to cope. She had used all of her savings and was desperate to save her house. I had been speaking to Jack the day before and we had talked about a bill he had just got through Parliament. I told my friend about this and she went straight to the DSS where they told her that yes she was able to claim. It saved her home and she and her husband have had their lives changed because of this.
    We always looked forward to Jack coming to Widnes as we could always guarantee that he would have sparks flying, throwing a comment here and there to get a debate going. We never won!!!
    He was the master at orating, nobody does it better. He was passionate, caring, ever supportive, giving and always there for me.
    I will miss him –

  41. Having read just a few of the colossal lump of fond recollections, witty anecdotes and straight-forward gushes of admiration, the prospect of writing a worthy tribute to the magnificent man who was, and will always be my beloved Granddad is, to say the least, daunting. His determination, his compassion, his warm heart and his monumental achievements; well, no measure, even the sheer number of tributes that have been written (to which he would have responded to with “bloody nonsense” and a bashful grin) – can ever really do justice to the extent to which he bettered the world.
    Many people have said of Jack that his “bloody-mindedness” – a term which I would not be surprised to discover in next year’s dictionary after him – was the secret to his success. Whilst I wholly agree that he was indeed the most “bloody-minded” man this side of the border, what really strikes me as his most unique attribute, is that mischievous smile and twinkle in his eye, which were always there on those occasions when his “bloody-mindedness” was in full frontal offensive. He was able to come out with the most potentially shocking remarks, to argue, to fight to the death for what he believed in – and with that smile and twinkle, he charmed everyone in the process (even those towards whom his attack was directed).
    Granddad, you were a charmer, a fighter, and a family man through and through.

    You charm us still.

  42. It is only now that Uncle Jack has gone that I realise the impact that he had on those around him because to me he was simply; my Uncle Jack.
    The Uncle Jack that made a huge fuss of us whenever he saw u,s
    The Uncle Jack that use to hide sweets all over Nan’s house for me and Jamie to search for whenever he visited and always showered us with love and affection
    The uncle jack that tried his hardest to teach me how to drive despite my total inadequacy behind the wheel!
    The uncle jack who taught me how to play black jack and poker (well his version anyway! which has since come in handy)
    The uncle jack who was always there at the end of a phone whenever you needed him and would go to any length to help those around him.
    The uncle jack that was there for me, mum and Jamie throughout our childhood, bringing us some of my happiest memories that I will hold with me forever.
    The uncle Jack who I looked up to, respected, admired and loved very much.

    Jack Ashley was a very special man; one of the most caring, compassionate, determined (although bloody stubborn at times!), and loving men I am glad to have had in my life. Me and my brother didn’t have a dad growing up, but between my Grandad and my Uncle jack, me and Jamie were lucky enough to have these men to look up to and played a huge part in our lives, for which I will be forever grateful.

    You know they say nothing good ever comes out of Widnes……how wrong people are!

    Rest easy Uncle Jack xxxxxxx

  43. I first met Jack almost twenty years ago when I was working for the RNID, and subsequently became a Trustee. He was a ‘big’ man in more ways than one.

    Deafness can be a tremendous barrier, and we still have a long way to go to provide a level playing field in employment and life generally for deaf people. In this area as in many others, Jack is someone who could honestly say when he arrived to the pearly gates: I made a difference for good…….

    A fine man. We’ll all miss him.

  44. I am the 67 year old son of parents originally from Wolstanton, so I am aware of the special regard held for Lord Jack in the Potteries, in addition to the respect, admiration and gratitude of every person with a disability in the UK. An industrial accident ended my working life at 51 and I was completely at a loss, until I learned of all the rights and benefits that I could use to make my life better and give me back my pride. Lord Ashley fought so hard for us and I would like to pass on the acknowlegement of that to his family, along with my deep, sincere thanks. I just worry that what he fought for may now be in the process of being destroyed.
    RIP Lord Jack, you were among a special few in the House of Lords who truly deserved to be there.

  45. From my very first days on “Panorama” in the Sixties and onwards to “Nationwide” and other programmes in succeeding years, Jack was an inspiration to me and the lessons I learned were especially about courage and humanity. Of many memorable times with him, I was moved to blog this simple one:


  46. A man of remarkable courage, determination, tenacity, and energy; impressively shrewd and effective; yet also delightfully warm-hearted, humorous and engaging. A special combination.

  47. He was a rare example of someone who not only believed he could change the world, but did. He left an enormous mark in the world that will always be remebered, both by the thousands people who’s lives he transformed, and by those of us who were privileged enough to know him.

    As well as being a courageous and tireless campaigner, he also shaped a great deal of my life. He taught me to walk and to fight. He taught me to drive – a testing experience, but a lesson I’ll never forget! He taught me the meaning of ambition, and showed me that anything is possible. He was the strongest, most determined man I knew. I’ll miss him hugely.

  48. It’s at moments like these that I wish I was a better writer. What a sad loss Jack’s passing is for us all. I met him on a number of occasions through our work at RADAR and he always made me feel that his interest was personal. He had a twinkle in his eye and a mischevious sense of humour which was particularly evident when opponents were within earshot. I never left him without feeling renewed and with a list of actions or ideas that Jack wanted taken forward. I shall miss him personally and treasure the fact that I had the pleasure of knowing him.

  49. An incredibly dedicated and principled politician, standing up for the rights of so many. But also a lovely gentle soul who always showed a genuine interest in others. He will be hugely missed.

  50. Jack has always been a wonderful brother to me and my sisters. We shared everything, although we had very little. Because my mother was deaf and very shy, he had great sympathy for deaf people all of his life. My mother’s hearing aid was very heavy. It had a steel band to go over her head which made a dinge in her head. The battery was large and heavy and had to be in a large pocket. Jack spent years trying to get the government to supply free modern hearing aids for deaf people. In the end he was successful. I am so proud to be Jack’s sister. I think the words he used when he was fighting for the Thalidomide children will always be in my mind: “No hands to hold, no legs to dance on”. Sleep well, Jack. You deserve a rest.

  51. In the glory days of Lime Groive Studios, the late 1950’s, Jack and I were colleagues in Television Talks and we used to settle the problems of the world over a glass of wine. It was heady stuff ; Robin Day, Ludo Kennedy, Chris Chatawy, Huw Wheldon, Cliff Michelmore and a vey yoing Melvyn Bragg, we all rubbed shoulders in that poky Lime Grove.Jack’s voice was just one of his distinguishing marks : He made his case clearly and forcefully, but always with that endearing smile. His televsion career was brief : he was a much-missed colleague when he moved to Wetsminster.

    I salute his memory with affection.

  52. On behalf of the National Cochlear Implant Users Association I would like to say how sad we were to hear of Jack’s death. He and Pauline founded the association in 1997 and from then on has been a tower of support first as Chairman and then as our President. In spite of his many commitments he was always there for us as I well know as I served as the secretary of the association for the first ten years. Being totally deaf himslef he knew what it was like and what an implant meant to a deaf person – it transformed their life. Thanks to Jack the association is flourishing and will continue to campaign, as he taught us, for more people to benefit from cochlear implants as Jack would want. We have lost a great man and a great campaigner..

  53. My first job in journalism was on the Stoke Sentinel from 1990 until 1993 and it was always a pleasure to call Jack (then MP for Stoke-on-Trent South) for a quote. He was always friendly, courteous, and patient with a cub reporter who was still getting to know the local area. I remember covering a meeting Jack had with the families of Staffordshire Regiment soldiers then working in the Gulf and getting something slightly wrong in the story I filed. Jack was very kind and understanding and didn’t make a big deal out of it when we next spoke. I have very much enjoyed reading his obituaries and learning more about how he took on the pharma industry and campaigned for people with disabilities. I now work as online editor for the British Medical Journal. We tend only to commission obituaries of doctors, which is a shame, as I’m sure many of our medical readers would find the story of his life fascinating and inspiring.

  54. I wish to pay my own personal tribute to Jack. I am Louise Medus-Mansell, nee Mason back in the 70’s when Jack assisted my father David Mason and other Thalidomide families in the campaign for Thalidomide compensation. As Jack’s sister mentioned in her tribute I was the girl for which Jack gave his inspiring speech on 29th November 1972.

    “Adolescence is a time for living and laughing, for learning and loving. But what kind of adolescence will a 10-yearold boy look forward to when he has no arms, no legs, one eye, no pelvic girdle and is only two feet tall? That is the height of two whisky bottles placed one on top of the other. How can an 11-year-old girl look forward to laughing and loving when she has no hand to be held and no legs to dance on?”

    As Thalidomide Survivors we are forever grateful for the great work that Jack did for us right up until very recently. Jack was a very humble man and a great politician with a passion for sticking up for disabled people. Jack was patron for our 50th Anniversary event on 26th May of the Government’s final warning to take Thalidomide off the market and the last time we met he continued to show his enthusiasm for our plight. ([email protected]).

    With greatful thanks R.I.P Jack

  55. Jack Ashley was a hero for me from my teenage days as somone who had defied the odds and changed expectations of what someone with a disability could achieve. He was also a fearless campaigner who made the case for the rights of disabled people other disadvantaged groups. He was the kind of decent and independent man who gives politics a good name. I wrote the blog below last week to urge those of us in the field of mental health to use his memory as a source of inspiration.


    My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.

  56. Its was with a very heavy heart when we hears the passing of Jack. He was a great campaigner and supporter of The Thalidomide Society in the days when we were The the Society For The Aid of Thalidomide Children and especially the Parents.

    I know that if it hadn’t been for Jack’s great work and all his help the Parents would not have won the support for their Thalidomide Children (as they were then).

    He was so humble and friendly he will be remembered by all.

    Thank you Jack for everything. R.I.P now.

    Louise Medus-Mansell
    Chairperson of Thalidomide Society

  57. I believe that the rights for disabled people in this country are very much better than they were 30 years ago and that in no small part is down to Jack. There are politicians in the House Of Commons that are passionate and hard working and want to change the outcomes of the people and that was Jack.
    When we view politicians and make judgements, lets not forget the “Jack’s of this world, someone who was loved and respeted across the political spectrum and lets be grateful that in Jack Ashley, the House Of Commons, had a politician of stature, dignified and determined and a man of the highest integrity.
    I have written an affectionate tribute to Jack in an article which can be found on http://www.triond.com/rw/395066.
    My condolences to Jack Ashley’s family at this sad time.

  58. It was with great saddness I read of the passing of Lord Ashley of Stoke. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times when I was a Trustee of Scope involved with the “Rights Now” “Poll Apart” and “Within Reach” campaigns. I always enjoyed meeting Jack he was an outstanding man and a joy to be with. Over 9 million disabled people have a lot to thank Jack for thus enhancing the quality of life for many disabled people. I witness him addressing hundreds of disabled people in parliament in the days before we had equal rights legislation for disabled people. His passion was tangable his words memorable and his legacy will live on with many non disabled and disabled people. Thank you Jack my sympathies to your family and friends. God Bless and Rest in Peace

  59. I just wanted to add my thanks for a life less ordinary.

    A lovely, warm, caring man and someone who restores one’s faith in politicians.

    Jack Ashley – ‘Our Jack’ – will be sorely missed.

  60. I had the great privilege of serving as chairman of the RNID and Deafness Research UK when Jack Ashley was President of both. Indeed Jack was also Chairman or President of many other deaf organisations, many of which he himself had founded. As a natural communicator and a politician destined for high office, one can only imagine the terrible shock that he experienced when he awoke from a routine operation to find that he had lost his hearing. However if that was the worst moment of his life, it was certainly the best moment for the 9 million deaf and hearing-impaired people in this country. He became an indefatigable champion of all deaf issues and many of the major advances in recent years for deaf people, cochlear implants, increased funding for new and exciting research, improved education and, his own special interest, sub-titling on TV, owe much to his drive, his tenacious campaigning and continual encouragement of others. I would also add that all this was only possible because of the selfless devotion of Jack’s wife Pauline – a very talented researcher and campaigner herself. When Jack first lost his hearing, Pauline for a time sacrificed her own career to devote herself to becoming his “ears”- his interface to the world of politics and communication, which was his life. Only when Jack had one of the early cochlear implants was she able to assume her other roles. Without doubt Jack and Pauline Ashley made one of the most remarkable and effective political teams ever.

  61. The Association of Disabled Professionals is deeply saddened at the passing of Lord Jack Ashley.

    Lord Jack Ashley was a pioneer both as a politician and in all equality issues. He fought for the injustices of disabled people. He worked tirelessly with many people including our former chair the late Sir Peter Large on the disability discrimination act and other injustices affecting disabled people. Choice for disabled people would not have been recognised without his presence in both houses of parliament.

    He would concern himself with issues which appeared trivial to others but important to individuals. A truly remarkable man and leaves a legacy which disabled people will cherish.

  62. A man who lived a full life campaigning with honour and dignity for the things that most of us care about. A man who was deeply admired and whom we shall not see the like of again.

    Sincere condolences to his family

  63. Someone who I saw on the news as I grew up, an example of a politician always trying to do the right thing for people facing difficulties and challenges he knew first hand, not to achieve high office but because of a clear and passionate belief in social justice. One of the people in politics who inspired me to get involved.

  64. Graham Sheppard, Hamilton Lodge Head Teacher, said; “Lord Ashley was a tireless campaigner for the rights of disabled people. He showed that being deaf need not be a hurdle to influencing decision makers both here and abroad. Hamilton Lodge students have taken inspiration from his work over many years.”
    The School & College has posted a news story about Lord Ashley at http://www.hamiltonlsc.co.uk

  65. A man I perceived to have no understanding of the phrase ‘it cannot be done’. If it needed to be done and there was a just reason for doing so then he would do it and do so successfully.
    A great loss.

  66. Jack Ashley is the greatest person to come from my town, and gives great hope to me, it is possible to achieve what you want in life even if your background is a barrier. He showed that you can break down that barrier and succeed in life.

  67. I was very sorry to hear of the death of Jack Ashley the former MP for Stoke South. He was a doughty fighter for the rights of the disabled and a very good constituency MP. I knew him best during the 1970s and 80s when I was active in the Labour Party in Stoke, for a short period between 1985-6 I was Vice Chairman of Stoke South Constituency Labour Party. His campaign on behalf of people effected by the thalidomide drug in the 70s which would be a fine record in its own right but added to that was his work around domestic violence and the need for a refuge for victims of violence later in the decade.

    I could add other things as well. Recently I wrote for the Sentinel in the local history section ” Way We Were” on the earth tremors caused by mining in the Flash lane area of Stoke in the 70s. Jack Ashley fought the interests of his constituency in a forceful way ensuring that compensation would be won for residents who were inconvenienced greatly by the “quakes”. One subject that I recall him taking a great interest in way before Joanna Lumley was the subject of Gurka pay and pensions. I recall asking him a question about this in 1986 shortly before I left to work in Wigan. He was very pleased that someone else should ask a question and added that he was sorry that I was moving out of the district. He did say that I should support Widnes Rugby league team who were superior to Wigan whilst I was living in the North West- it was advice I ignored. I know how much he valued the work of ordinary members of the Labour Party and was very pleased to see me some time later when I bumped into him outside Stoke Railway Station

    I also went on a tour of the House of Commons with Jack in the summer of 1984. I can recall a few things about the day. Having to almost press myself flat against the corridor wall as the very large bulky presence of Ian Paisley was coming the other way and Jack’s impersonation of Roy Jenkins peering at his finger nails as an indicator of how aloof Jenkin’s was with other MPs. One thing was noticeable as we trudged around the Palace of Westminster and that was the looks of recognition from members of the public.

    I should also add how much Pauline’s support was invaluable to Jack in coping with his deafness. His wife cut an elegant and kindly figure in the meeting places of Stoke South Labour Party.

  68. Very saddened by Lord Ashley’s passing .
    Jack Ashley’s determination in fighting for the rights of disabled people has meant that many thousands of disabled people (including myself) have benefitted by society now being far more inclusive than in the past which in turn, has allowed disabled people to contribute to society on their own terms.

    In continuing the fight to improve disabled peoples lives even further the disability movement could follow no better example than Jack Ashley.

    Rest in Piece Lord Ashley.

  69. Lord Ashley was President of the Friends of Epsom General and West Park Hospitals from 1997 until his death. He was an inspiration to us all with his wisdom and charm and his unfailing support for Epsom General Hospital for which he tirelessly campaigned. My sister and I were privileged to be invited to tea at the House of Lords by Jack and Pauline – it was a memorable occasion which we will always remember. He will be missed by us all.

  70. so saddened to hear of the loss of jack, a true gentleman, who without his dedicated help and perseverance us Thalidomiders would not be where we are now. Rest in peace jack heaven’s angels are waiting for you.

  71. I first came across Jack, and Pauline, in 1974 when he campaigned in the South West, when I was a Labour Party organiser. It was immediatley obvious that here was a man of great magnetism.
    In subsequent years, I learned a great deal more from my husband, the late Professor Peter Townsend. They came from almost identical. impoverished backgrounds and met as students at Cambridge. Jack was very handsome, and Peter was worried that the woman who eventually became his first wife may be attracted to Jack, and used to stand outside Jack’s flat to check that it was not the case! Then, when Jack went deaf, Peter was instrumental in persuading him that his disability was no bar to political representation. His was a name which went far beyond Westminster; passionate, persuasive, persistent. Even at the end of his life, his was one of the few voices which commanded total respect in the House of Lords.
    After my husband’s death in 2009, Jack and I had tea in the House of Lords. He started to cry about Peter’s death, and I followed suit. Goodness knows what the others in the Peers Dining Room made of two peers of the realm sobbing into their teacakes! The following week I received a very funny letter, suggesting another tea, and promising that he wouldn’t cry, and he didn’t. I am just one of the very many people who feel privileged to have known him, and I will miss him very much.

  72. I loved my Uncle Jack. He was kind compassionate and strong and an inspiration to me.
    I loved his visits to Widnes and enjoyed watching him relish my mum’s gravy dinners which he said were the best. He brought Christmas parties to life with his lively banter and questions. I remember these visits from a very early age. He was a great influence and inspiration. All my love Janice.

  73. The newspapers, television and lots and lots of people have been saying what a wonderful man you were, but only the family know really how wonderful – from your gentleness with our mum, your great love for Pauline, and your great concerns for the rest of the family.
    I will think of you every day with so much love
    Rest in Peace my wonderful brother.

  74. I first met Jack Ashley through his family, so the first side of him I saw was warmth and humour. He had a magnificent presence – but one that was warm, welcoming and encouraging rather than intimidating. He had great achievements to his name – but wanted to know your name, your interests, your views. With his remarkable wife Pauline, he provided perspective and inspiration. As time progressed, I came to understand what he had achieved for others as a campaigner. My discussions with him focussed on politics in general not disability policy in particular. He knew that every day that Labour was in opposition was a waste, and every day in government a privilege that should not be wasted. His common sense was born of never forgetting where he came from and what could be achieved. He saw through fraudsters and poseurs, and always asked – will it work and will it make a difference. He made a difference to many people, and that is the best tribute to any life. I know he will be hugely missed, but his achievements and example live on.

  75. I can’t remember when Jack Ashley first came into my consciousness; it was a long time ago. Once installed however, there were regular reminders, updates, -illustrated by such as the many tributes and anecdotes posted on this welcome site, of just why it was that he stayed there.
    We should never forget the memory of people like Jack Ashley -they are a rare breed indeed. Not just this generation’s memory, or the next one’s, but remembered and recalled for all time.
    I felt such warmth when, on becoming a member of the House of Lords -he chose to be known as Lord Ashley of Stoke. Good on yer Jack.

  76. Jack ‘not only’ directly changed the lives of millions of disabled and non-disabled people, but as a legendary campaigner, his influence on the next generation of activists means that millions more people continue to benefit from his exceptional skills and goodness. The depth of people’s loss is movingly described in so many tributes.

    I am deeply grateful that I had the privilege of knowing Jack, via my father, (Jack and Greville were friends at university), through my work with Alf Morris, (himself a hero to disabled people) and through my friendship with Jane and Martin and the family. I loved being with Jack, and am smiling now as I remember how he’d affectionately tease me about something or other, and how I’d feel charged up about the extent of social change it’s possible to achieve

    Dad enjoys telling me the story of how Jack and Pauline left the front steps of my grandparents’ home to go to church for their wedding. (This may be apocryphal, but it’s very tenacious in our family.) Dad and Jack were mates, Jane and I are mates. In Hebrew it’s l’dor va’dor – from generation to generation. It’s clear that Jack and Pauline’s prodigious humanity, energy, warmth, humour, wisdom and effectiveness very much live on in the next generations.

    love marion

  77. No more needs to be said by me about how the work of Lord Ashley has made an immense difference in the lives of disabled people, nor about how he inspired many to overcome and achieve in spite of their disabilities or, indeed, in spite of their humble beginnings. But what made Jack Ashley a giant in both Houses in Parliament for me was his impeachable integrity.

  78. Jack was simply the most wonderful next door neighbour anyone could have. He always welcomed us round for a chat and loved to make a fuss of my little boys. He was the most interesting person to talk to and truly inspirational. It is quite amazing how much he managed to fit into his life.

    My last treasured memory is sitting with him on his porch, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine whilst having a cup of tea. Jack, you will be greatly missed by us all.

  79. Sadly, I wasn’t a reporter on The Sentinel, in Stoke, when Jack was a much-loved Potteries MP.
    As a journalist on the paper now, I’ve recently heard many stories about his dedication to his constituents; the campaigns he fought for the disabled; and his commitment to social justice and tackling inequality.
    I’m sure he will live long in the memories of many people in Stoke-on-Trent, and much further afield. His is an example to be followed.

  80. Jack Ashley supported Thalidomiders at a time when the world tried hiding……………nuff said xx

  81. I last met Jack Ashley at a thank you dinner for the 2009 Thalidomide government health campaign. I am very sad to hear of his parting from this world. As part of the 50 year anniversary to mark the withdrawal of Thalidomide from the market we have a 50 day blog that captures events from the past. The link provided here to this particular post is a reminder and recognition of appreciation of the practical work Jack did for those affected by Thalidomide, So from archives of Hansard http://suekent.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/jack-ashley-lord-ashley-of-stoke.html

  82. I first met Jack Ashley when he was a co-producer of a BBC TV political programme called “Gallery”. We soon found we were on the same wavelength and so commenced a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years. It was a friendship that covered the whole spectrum from wet camping holidays in Devon to fish and chip lunches in Ewell and all this was set against a family background which was an essential part of Jack’s life.

    When Jack expressed an interest in standing for Parliament, I made contact with friends around the country and the first port of call was Barrow in Furness which Jack just missed and next was Stoke on Trent South where he won the nomination and thus started an impressive Parliamentary career which surely must go down in history as a unique achievement. I cannot think of any other MP who managed so successfully to use the authority of Parliament to campaign for issues that attacked the social fabric of society. In doing so he brought justice and equality for millions of ordinary people. And it was all done whilst he was completely deaf. Without the practical support of Pauline, Jack could not have succeeded, they were a magnificant team and the help from the family should never be underestimated.

    But Jack had an enormous sense of humour. I can recall occasions when something would trigger off a laugh and in moments he would be lost for words as tears streamed down his cheeks. And there were times when we would be sorting out the problems of the world and woe betide if you had a weak argument for Jack had a powerful intellect and could demolish your case in seconds. But it was all done with a smile as you moved on to the next subject.

    Jack had a a real fertile brain and never ceased to be campaigning. Quite recently he showed me correspondence as the victims of thalidomide entered a new phase in their life as their dependents were dying and Jack was able to assist them again as he had done some 50 years ago.

    In more recent years as Jack became less mobile I would bring in fish and chips and we would sit in his kitchen or in the garden and discuss issues of the day. These were great events, simple pleasures and absorbing discussions. Jack had that determination to tackle numerous issues despite the fact that he had many disabilities. Others would have packed up and gone home.

    The Ashley family has lost a great Dad and those of us who had the pleasure of his company have lost a great friend. Somehow life will not be quite the same.

  83. The mere mention of Jack Ashley’s name to the local education authority secured my daughter’s funding in a school for deaf children! I had been fighting for a year for my daughter’s placement and the much needed funding! My profoundly deaf daughter achieved a good education and a University degree as a result!! My daughter and many others are very grateful to Jack Ashley for all that he did for the deaf community. Jack Ashley will never be forgotten. A very good man. An example for all M.Ps to follow. A very special Soul. Bless him.

  84. Jack has touched all of our lives in different ways and so many ways in which most people will never realise. From the first time he was elected to Parliament, he helped win rights for people who were often unheard and invisible – like people who care for disabled and older people who had no independent income and no rights. We have him to thank for campaigning, with others, for all of those things. His name is on three successful Private Members Bills that form the cornerstone of carers rights and he took through the last Carers (Equal Opportunities) Bill through Parliament in 2004 to become become legislation. On top of his work for disabled people, few law makers can claim such a catalogue of important achievements to social justice in our country. 6 million people caring for their disabled and older relatives have him to all these rights that they have. The rights that we advise on day in, day out, were won by him.

    I remember the first time I ever met Jack in 1996. I was excited at meeting a man who had achieved so much, and terrified at the same time! He seemed to always bring out the best in people. I loved his determination, his passion to get justice for people and will always remember working with him to help make our country a better place. He changed many people’s worlds. He certainly changed mine and I will miss him.

  85. In the early 1980’s there was increasing concern that the money received by hospices from the NHS was unpredictable and varied considerably across the country. A number of new hospices had been built. However, the Hospice Movement as a whole seemed not to be getting the recognition in Parliament that it deserved. I, as a new MP, became Secretary of the All Party Hospice Support Group, of which Jack was the first Chair. It was a privilege working with Jack on this project. As a young new Member it was very good seeing how a wiser, seasoned, older Member campaigned courteously but effectively with Ministers to get what he felt was appropriate. And as a consequence we won commitments from the then Government that they would seek to provide 50% of the funding for Hospices in the voluntary sector. The All Party Group has gone on to become the All Party Hospice and Palliative Care Group but its existence owes much to the original energy and leadership of Jack Ashley.


    Tony Baldry

  86. As all these comments testify, the name of Jack Ashley is absolutely legendary in the world of disability. I was so pleased to get to know him a little in the last few years when we would often have a word in the Lords’ corridors – he on his scooter and me pushing my walker. He was the most inspirational figure and someone who will long be remembered with great affection.

  87. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends. He is a tremendous loss. His sincerity and integrity were unique amongst politicians. He was one of only two people in politics I admired and respected. A true gentle man.

  88. Jack was a lovely man who was liked and admired across the political spectrum. He was the trailblazer who showed that someone with a disability could be a very effective MP. He fought, and won, many of the early battles to ensure that the appropriate help was provided to make the job possible. It was his example which made me think that perhaps it would be possible for me to be an MP too.

  89. I worked with Jack on a number of initiatives from 1994 to 2010 when I headed the Policy and Campaigns Department at Leonard Cheshire Disability. He was unfailingly encouraging and supportive across those years. I have a photograph of him and myself walking across College Green. It is a noted possession.
    Jack was part of what we described as the “Holy Trinity” – himself together with Lords Alf Morris and Brian Rix. I was enriched by having known and worked with all three. They demonstrated through actions as opposed to words selflessness, truthfulness and a sustained commitment to us – disabled people. For them it was much more than a career. Alf and Brian continue the battle.
    I spoke at the party in 2006 to celebrate Jack’s 40th anniversary in Parliament. I referred to him “as a man who shared his power with disabled people”. Jack, Alf and Brian never pulled the ladder up behind them. They never forgot who they were speaking for and set standards which others could do well to emulate. We will not see the likes of them again.
    Blessings on Jack and all his family.

  90. It is with profound sadness that the British Deaf Association learns of the passing of Lord Ashley of Stoke, recognised as a champion of disabled people and their rights, as well as being the first ever re-elected deaf MP in the UK Parliament.

    Jack Ashley lost his hearing after an unsuccessful ear operation and feared he may have to resign as an MP and leave politics. However, he overcame this adversity and learned to lip-read. His deafness never affected his fighting attitude or his ardent campaigning. He was widely known and respected for his unswerving work and commitment in the campaign for better compensation for children disabled by the drug Thalidomide, which was given to mothers to treat morning sickness during the 1950s and 1960s.

    He was a courteous and generous person, always giving his time and energy to improve the lives of deaf people, not only here in the UK but worldwide. He was a Plenary Speaker at the World Federation of the Deaf Congress in Finland 1987 and made an indefinable impression on all who were there, becoming the role model for many deaf people to enter politics, thus epitomising the saying “deaf people can do anything but hear”. This being a fitting legacy.

    The BDA send its condolences to Lord Ashley’s family. A light has dimmed, but his work remains a shining star.

  91. Jack and I were exact contemporaries at Caius College, Cambridge. He was the only many in public life about whom I have never heard an unkind word, even from political opponents. His transparent honesty and manifest integrity, coupled with a fine intellect and a pleasing, charismatic personality, probably accounts for this. His work for the disabled speaks for itself.

    I have probably known my friend Jack longer than anyone living (1948) and shall treasure his memory. My sincere condolences go to his family.

  92. Somehow you always felt a little uneasy promoting a different view to Jack’s because you knew he was a good man. Always corteous, always strong and with a clear view of what he believed to be right he was a man to be respected by all who met him.

    As a constituency MP he was exemplary and always did his best to help those who sought his assistance. Jack you were a true Gentleman and one who honoured this City. My thoughts are with your family.

  93. My piece here springs from the privilege I had of being a close colleague of Pauline’s for several years in the 1990’s when we championed together consumer rights for electricity users. She was simply the very best chairman I ever experienced and that includes ministers and mandarins in Whitehall and in Europe as well as the whole gamut of voluntary and local groups. She had the greatest possible combination of intellectual and personal skills. Had life been different, I have no doubt she could have become the foremost “wise person” of her generation – the Beveridge or the Franks – respected by all governments.

    As it was, those great qualities were put at Jack’s disposal. It is good to see that time and again tributes to him also recognise her. In that cruel trick of fate his affliction unlocked the full potential of them both. What achievements. What a partnership .Meeting them together was a wonderful experience.

    Jack’s work and victories as a backbencher are unlikely ever to be matched. And who now brings his workplace experience to the Commons ? I grew up in a mid-Cheshire chemical industry town and whilst I was one generation on, we had close neighbours whose homes and jobs were much the same. Like Pauline I read Economics at Girton, so I know how great was that leap to Cambridge and the Union Presidency.

    There was everything to admire about them both, but I think above all it was that they remained absolutely genuine and unassuming, at ease with all sorts and conditions of men. They transcended all the barriers of class, opinion, money simply by their great goodness and moral purpose.

    Jack and Pauline – we salute you

  94. Jack’s campaigns on behalf of disabled people are legendary and will certainly become part of the long, tortuous – and no doubt continuing – history of disability. All of us who served with Jack will remember him with admiration and great affection.

  95. Lord Ashley was a great champion of causes relating to Deafness and hearing loss and played an active and leading role in advancing Deaf equality and the recognition of BSL and in December 2003 Lord Ashley was given a lifetime achievement award in the ePolitix website charity champions awards.

    It was in 1994 that Lord Ashley became president of UK Council on Deafness and in June 2004, was appointed Honarary President of the All Party Group on Deafness. Through his prominent role within the All Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness, he ensured that Deaf issues continued to be recognised at the highest political level and was instrumental in securing major improvements to the Communications Act, introduced in 2003 to greatly improve quality of life for deaf, hard of hearing and many other disabled people.

    He was involved in many other deaf organisations working with deaf people including patronage of The Ear Foundation, President of National Cochlear Implant Users Association and President of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as RNID) and demonstrated his great commitment and enthusiasm in supporting many initiatives that have improved the quality of life for people who experience hearing loss or deafness.

    His significant contribution and warm and friendly disposition will be sorely missed, and on behalf of all its member organisations, UKCoD would like to convey our deepest condolences to Lord Ashley’s family.

  96. As one of the presenters of the European conference “Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in Europe” which took place in London in May 2005, I met Lord Ashley at this conference for the first time. I quickly found out, he was a unique politician, with special interests in hearing loss. He was involved in many organisations working with deaf people and supported many initiatives that have improved the quality of life for people who experience hearing loss or deafness.
    As scientific advisor of Euro-CIU I would like to convey my deepest condolences to Lord Ashley’s family.

  97. Our son Peter now 39 years old was one of the first 300 to be compensated for damage caused by the Whoopign Cough Vaccine. We and he are endebted to Jack Ashley for his tireless and persistent work on behalf of people with disabilities. We never met him nor was he our MP but our family is greatly appreciative of his work. We would not be where we are today without him. He will be missed by many people across the country and our thoughts are with his family and friends at theis very sad time.

  98. What a privilege it was to have got to know Jack in the early days of cochlear implantation when life was challenging and many people were opposed to the provision of cochlear implants for deaf children. We were so delighted when Jack agreed to be a Patron of The Ear Foundation and lent his powerful intellect and personal insights to the arguments – and the twinkle and sense of humour! He supported us in many ways over the years, and took delight in seeing the progress of the children – he would be proud to see one of our earliest implanted children now take her place as Trustee. He and Pauline made a formidable team – and it was a privilege to know them. They left the world a better place for their contributions and his passion to change the lives of those who are deaf has led to unforeseen opportunities for deaf children and young people throughout the UK. We remember their family at this time, and hope it is some comfort to know what an influence Jack has had on so many lives and how much he will be missed.

  99. Some twenty years ago whilst I was working for an independent bookseller the autobiography of Jack Ashley “Acts of Defiance”, was published. I decided it would be an ideal Christmas present for my mother. She , like many local people of her age admired his determination and courage when as a young man he successfully campaigned to improve the conditions of his neighbourhood. I thought it would be an extra special surprise for her if her book was signed by Lord Ashley . My mother at that time was a dancing acquaintance of Jack’s sister ,I contacted her with my request ,as she was visiting her brother later that week she kindly offered to take the book for Jack to sign.
    Given his busy parliamentary and constitutuancy duties I expected it would be many weeks before the book came back to Widnes. How wrong I was ! it came back within a week duly signed : To Ellen a fellow Widnesian Jack Ashley 19-12-92; a wonderful and welcome present for my mum.

    Following my mothers death in 2007 the book came into my possession and I had the opportunity to read it for myself. I found it both inspirational and moving .

    Footnote :
    It was interesting to read that Jack made several complimentary references to another notable Widnesian (mentioned by John Collins in his Obituary tribute to Lord Ashley) namely Jack Carney, who was cousin to my husband’s grandfather. He supported the then young Jack Ashley to pursue his campaign to have bins supplied to local households and encouraged him at the start of his political career. He went on to pen the phrase “Knight Errant of the dustbins”
    A great book written by a great man who touched many lives.

  100. One of the best things I ever did was to get involved with Jack Ashley. As a young researcher in the House of Commons Library at the time, Jack, who had been deaf for just a few years, would sit besides my desk while I telephoned various people on his behalf (often Barbara Castle, for whom he was then PPS), various colleagues, and, of course, Pauline and the family. It was a pleasure to do so, and he became an inspirational friend. As he engaged with the battle over Thalidomide, or bullying, or better rights for disabled people, I was encouraged to be a co-conspirator. No target was too big; no obstacle too great; no cause too small to deter him from taking on the formidable battalions – and winning. I was incredibly proud to do anything that I could to help him and his causes became my causes too. And with that friendship came the knowledge of the extraordinary journey he had made, and the love and pride he took in Pauline and the three girls.

    For Jack, his socialism meant that you had to fight for those who couldnt fight for themselves. and to return time and again to the battlefield, to win the next step, and the one after that. The love and affection that he was held in, and the expectations that were held of him, were unique and fulfilled. With Jack on your side, you knew you had won half the battle to start.

    The final gift he made to me was to become my sponsor, when I was introduced into the House of Lords, and for me to know that he thought I was worth such a place.

    He was indeed, a Companion of Honour – in all senses. I am more proud than I can say, to think that he was my friend.

  101. The legacy left by Lord Jack Ashley is that people like me can enjoy a better quality of life.

    I acquired a substantial impairment and have lived in a disabling world for over 30 years. In that time I have confronted many of the barriers to inclusion and equality that Lord Ashley fought so hard to dismantle. Not least of these was the disabling attitude of the general public, the majority of politicians and the press. Lord Ashley captured this so very well with his words; ‘casual indifference slightly tinged with pity’ – but “bordering on neglect’. This blunt but very perceptive description has even greater resonance because they were spoken by someone who had to challenge such negativity in order to achieve what he did.

    I’m of the opinion that today’s young adults are more aware and willing to address the inequalities that Lord Ashley fought so hard to overcome. His lasting legacy is that future generations will finish the work that he began.

  102. Jack was the President of the National Association of Deafened People right from its beginning in the 1980s and was a great supporter of the charity throughout its existence. Even though he was unable to attend our AGM every year he never failed to send us a message to be read out. He attended a number of events for us, including the launch of our Employment Booklet, and was always ready to lend his help and campaigning skills to any member in need of assistance.

    My own acquaintance with both Jack and Pauline goes back to just after the operation from which he lost his remaining hearing, when a teacher at the City Lit arranged for them to meet with me for a meal so that Jack could glean as much information from me as possible. We met many times after that, not least during the recording of a programme on Typetalk for the TV programme See Hear, and Jack was always supportive and interested in NADP’s progress.

    His work for disabled people in general and for deafened people in particular was immense and will be impossible to replace. I feel honoured to have known him, and on behalf of NADP would like to offer our sympathy and good wishes to the family at this sad time.

  103. Whist I got to know Jack when he kindly agreed to speak at a supper that I had arranged at the Epsom Club, I have asked David Overton, a Trustee of the Club and a past President, to write a few words, as he knew Jack well for many years and regularly played snooker with him:

    “Jack, as we knew him, was a long term member of the Epsom Club. With us he could relax with the camaraderie which he said reminded him of the Northern clubs where he grew up. In particular he enjoyed playing snooker and was no mean performer. He never wished to be treated other than as an ordinary member, but he gave off the record support for the club and for individual members.
    We remember him with pride both for his friendship and his support for the Epsom Club.”

  104. I have not been able to see Jack for a while because of ill health. I kept in touch through my daughters and Jack always answered my letters. I will miss him and his sense of humour so much. We have known each other since he left school in Widnes aged 15 years, and came to work at Bolton’s Copper Refinery. He worked in the garage. I went through his early political career with him until he left Widnes after gaining a scholarship to Ruskin College. Always a great friend who will be sadly missed by all.

  105. We met Jack Ashley through our own and our children’s long friendship with his family.

    We intensely admired Jack’s championing of people with disabilities and the way he overcame the tragic loss of his hearing.

    It’s clear from all the tributes that Jack made a hugely signficant to public life.

    But what we also remember and treasure is the hugely loving atmosphere which surrounded all Ashely family events attended by Jack and his wonderful wife, Pauline.

    The whole Ashley-Rosenbaum family are life enchancers and a lot of that came from Jack.

  106. Jack was a magnificent campaigner for disabled people, hugely respected and very effective. I greatly enjoyed working with him when I was his Joint Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group. His wealth of knowledge and untiring persistence meant that he achieved change when others could not. The lives of many are better for his work and he will be sadly missed

  107. It was with great personal sadness that I learnt of Jack`s death. He was my hero and I am proud to say that he was also my friend. Over the years he offered me words of wisdom, advice and generous help. He also gave me many examples of his wonderful dry humour. On one occasion when I had bought him a small, but rather fancy, soup bowl for his favourite chicken and barley broth (as made by his sister Mary) I had the bowl ready to wrap when my small grandson asked me who it was for. I told him it was for Jack and explained that Jack was “Our Widnes Lord”. Later my little grandson asked me where my friend “Jesus” lived? When I told Jack the story he sent me a letter some time later saying he still hadn`t managed “the walking on water bit!”
    Jack was born and raised in Widnes at a time when poverty was no stranger to most homes. Many people lived in wretched surroundings which cultivated an atmosphere of despair. Most people did not have the ability or the confidence to change things and so there was a silent acceptance of their situation. Fortunately, for those people and countless others, a young Jack Ashley was up for the challenge. He took on the greedly landlords who were charging extortionate rents for property which was, in some cases, unfit for human habitation. He took them on and won.
    This personal campaign was the first of many. During his lifetime Jack championed the cause of the underprivileged members of society. He never turned his back on a cry for help or ignored the cases of ordinary men and women who battled against dehumanising social forces.
    Although he received many well deserved honours and awards he remained a humble and gentle man. When I think of him I am often reminded of Kiplings words “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch”. Jack never lost the common touch which endeared him to everyone. He walked with Kings and kept his virtue…and his integrity and humility!

    Thanks for everything Jack – you were a star!

  108. I’m a Councillor in Lord Ashley’s old constituency in Stoke. The fondness with which his former constituents recall the way he stood up for their interests is still plain to see on every corner of the patch. 20 years on from him stepping down as MP for the area there is still a deep affection, even in the most ardent opponents of the Labour Party. He is an example for all elected representatives to aspire to.

  109. I was saddened to hear of the passing of Lord Jack Ashley, I met him as a young Labour Prty Member and was vary impressed with his passion and hard work as an MP.

    There are a great deal of citizens in the UK that are in. Better place by the hard work of this hard working campaigner.

    Rest in Peace Lord Jack your memory will live on as the great man you were.

  110. We send our condolences to the family and friends of the late and great Jack Ashley. A man of principle, inspiration and action. His empathy towards people with disabilities was clear to see, and many thousands of people owe him a great debt for the better lives they live.

    Fondly remembered by us all at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

  111. My Dad was Jack’s election campaign agent in Stoke for many years John Wallis.
    As a child I was absolutely in awe of Jack Ashley and his beautiful wife and daughters with whom I and so many others spent wonderful times.
    Jack lit up every room he entered, not because he was Jack Ashley Member of Parliament but because Jack seemed able to make everyone he came into contact with feel his warmth and all appreciated his humour and incredible genuine interest in his constituents who loved him.
    I have read all of the tributes to him and he truly was one of the most exceptional people without doubt I will ever have the privilege to have known.He and my Dad had a special relationship not only through a commitment to Socialism but as friends and we all appreciated Jack’s mischevious,cheeky humour.
    So many people missed him when he moved from Trentham and Stoke on Trent will never recover from the loss of a man of integrity, compassion, and totally genuine in his love of life living and giving.
    What an absolute honour to have been aquainted with the most wonderful and amazing Lord Jack Ashley.

  112. On behalf of Stoke-on-Trent South Labour Party I would like to pay our tribute to our former Member of Parliament. Jack’s campaigns may have caught the public imagination, but first and foremost he was a devoted Constituency MP, who never forgot the people who elected him, and was always determined to right any wrong however large or small that affected the people of Stoke South. He was a champion for the City, fighting to preserve our traditional industries of pits and pots, and at our last All Members Meeting a number of warm, moving, heartfelt tributes were paid. On a personal note, as a disabled person Jack was an inspirational figure, and I remember visiting his Constituency surgery with my parents to discuss a personal issue that he resolved with the then Treasury Ministers. He complemented me on how easy I was to lip-read, a tribute that I made sure was widely disseminated! He was the inspiration for me joining the Labour Party as soon as I was old enough, and when I attended my first meeting both Jack and Pauline made a point of coming to me with warm words of encouragement that calmed a not inconsiderable number of butterflies in my stomach! Above everything, our abiding memory of Jack is of a warm, genuine, caring man, for whom nothing was too much trouble. He will be greatly missed.

    Tim Mullen
    Stoke South Labour Party Secretary

  113. Like the mighty totora tree, Jack was a moral giant at a time when only self and money seemed to matter. In Maori terms,Jack had “mana huuanga”-prestige, authority and respect that was earned by his deeds for others.

    I had the privilege to work for Jack as researcher to the All Party Disablement Group between 1979 and 1983. These were turbulent times for the disability sector as benefits and services were slashed. Through it all Jack was a vocal and passionate advocate inside Parliament using reason, rage and shame to force concessions from the government.

    Jack has made an indelible impression on my life. With passion, charm and his wicked sense of humour, he inspired me to work ridiculous hours at wretched pay and instilled in me a lifelong commitment to disability rights which I have carried through in my work in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where I now live.

    Above all, Jack was the embodiment of the whakatauki (saying)

    He aha te m ea nui o tea ao?
    He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

    Raewyn Stone

  114. We have lost a truly great man whose honesty, integrity and passion are sadly lacking in today’s world.

    He invited me to join the Executive Committee of NCIUA just after its formation and I came to know him as a man who somehow managed to combine being patient, modest and unassuming with the ability to fight passionately for causes in which he had a strong belief. He commanded tremendous respect from all whose paths he crossed and was a champion for the disabled, particularly for those with a hearing impairment. He had a great presence, determination, skill and passion and put people from all walks of life completely at ease.

    He touched the lives of countless people and was a great inspiration to those with hearing impairment. His wise counsel will be greatly missed.

    I am so grateful and glad that I had the opportunity to know him a little; a truly remarkable man who gave so much to so many.

    My deepest sympathy to his famil.

  115. Jack is one of the few people about whom one can say, with complete accuracy and confidence, that the world is a better place for him having been here. He did so much for so many people, borne out of his dislike of unfairness and justice. It truly was a privilege to have known him and to have counted him as a friend. Jack had no pretensions. In a world of inflated self-importance this was so refreshing, especially in someone as special as him.

    I particularly remember him sitting in our dining room, with Pauline, discussing how we could tackle a problem of injustice in the NHS. What a formidable pair they made. We felt empowered just having them on our side. Their plan opened the door of Richmond House and resulted in a way forward out of the impasse in which his local hospital had been entrenched.
    We miss you Jack and your lovely smile.

  116. Though we sat on opposite sides of the House of Commons we shared an interest in the problems of the deaf and hard of hearing for whom Jack was a tireless campaigner. As he found me easy to lip read we were able to chat in the “Silence Room” of the Commons Library ! I sat on the Committee which facilitated the development of Palantype so that Jack could read almost simultaneously the words being spoken in debates – and sometimes to respond vigorously ! The system is now widely used at meetings for the deaf and hard of hearing – yet another rmonument to a remarkable man.

  117. I had the privilege to work for Jack and spend some of his last week with him. And all I can say is that a month after he passed away I still miss him greatly. He was such a lovely and caring man; always asking about my life was and how my training as a nurse was progressing. When I think about him, its heartbreaking to know that such a gentlemen is gone, but all those memories and moments I shared with him brings a smile to my face. My most beautiful memory with him is when we went out to the garden to get apples from the tree.Soon after I couldn’t wheel him back in the house because the wheels were stuck in mud and we had such a big laugh trying to dig the wheel out. That day we took few pictures together (which I always look at) but the biggest memory is the one that he left in my heart.I miss you a lot Jack and I miss “betting” thousands of pounds for a game. I miss your sense of humor, which i didnt understand at the beginning but I grew to love. I miss you but I’m extremely happy that you were part of my life and an example for what a good person should be.

    Thank you for everything Jack and Thank you for being you,

    Jennifer Samaniego

  118. It was with great sadness that Disabled people everywhere learnt of the passing of Lord Jack Ashley. Apart from being a great Parliamentarian who overcame his own disability of Profound Deafness, he inspired so many people who became their Idol and Role Model in helping in his many Campaigns to better their lives. May his hard work throughout his life, live on to benefit so many Disabled people.
    I send my deepest condolances to his Family. He will be sadly missed.

  119. Dear Jack was such a kind, caring and generous person, giving freely of his time and energies to help others. As a great supporter of his local Epsom hospital and chairman of the Friends of Epsom Hospital he was an immensely valuable influence at a critical time. We at Epsom are so grateful for everything he did to improve healthcare in our local area. He was also a great friend and we are very sad that he has gone.

  120. When I worked at Westminster in the seventies and eighties I used –yes, even then – to meet otherwise reasonable people who said: How can you stand it? Having to mix with all those greedy, grasping people only in it for themselves – only in it for what they hope to get out of it…To which I sometimes replied –adopting a formula proposed to me by when I arrived there my senior colleague and mentor, Ian Aitken – that Westminster contained much the same broad spectrum of people you would find anywhere else, from outright sinners (though Ian favoured a stronger word than ‘sinners’) to near-saints. But at other times I refuted them, in essence, with just two words: Jack Ashley.

    “Oh, the deaf MP” they would say: to which I replied: yes, the deaf MP, but so much more than the deaf MP: a politician whose rare blend of empathy and generosity with hard-headed practicality had brought him into the trade to advance the welfare of others, especially those ill-equipped in all kinds of way to advance themselves. I always thought of him, and shall always remember him, as the honest, unselfish, decent, (and endearing and entertaining) vindication of the battered reputation of politics: even more battered now, but not, as his life has demonstrated, at all beyond redemption.
    David McKie
    Former Guardian political writer

  121. Jack had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives. We first met some time before I was involved with RNID. He had seen me say in a newspaper that my lipreading was ‘not a patch on Jack Ashley’s’. He wrote to me and asked if I would contribute one of my photographs to an exhibition he was launching at Lloyds’ for what became Defeating Deafness. I shall always treasure his words as a source of strength: ‘Looking the world straight in the eye, while simultaneously reading its lips, requires the skill of an acrobat and the persistence of a leech. But confidence is all’.

    The second huge source of strength, which I know he has passed on to so many, is that tenacity. Often when we were campaigning for the rights of disabled people, and we had actually secured some real advance, he would always say with that conspiratorial twinkle in his eye: come on, they say that, but I’m sure we can get a little more, don’t you? He encapsulated the ideal campaigning spirit of living in a state of permanent dissatisfaction. And just think how many millions of people have benefitted from that.

  122. It is humbling to think about a man who spent his life taking on inequality, seeking justice and striving for a better, fairer world. That Jack delivered against all the odds speaks volumes for his own efforts and of course, those of his wife, Pauline. Much has been rightly said of Jack the fighter but there was a merry soul not far below the surface and it was this, as much as his tenacity, which won admiration and respect from friends and foes alike. On one of my early visits to the House of Lords, Jack led me to Westminster Hall where he explained his pride in knowing that the fairness he sought came through democracy and that where we were standing was, for him, the cradle of such a system. To and from the Hall, doors were opened by and genuine pleasantries exchanged with, Commons and Peers alike (folk I’d seen on the telly!) and it was obvious that Jack was deservedly held in huge regard by all, irrespective of political background. Then came toasted teacakes and as much as anything, it is the memory of Jack sitting back, enjoying his tea and relaxing which I will remember, as much I will recall with pride all of his many achievements. RIP. Rory.

  123. Thank you Lord Jack for everything you did for us thalidomiders. I am so sad that you have been taken from us. May the Good Lord grant you eternal rest and grant comfort to your family. I was at the Thalidomide 50 conference and your brave daughter spoke wonderfully about you. Thank you again on behalf of all Thalidomiders.

  124. Jack was a giant of a man – a towering figure who will leave a huge hole not just in the field of disability but in our public life generally. He was always seen as a leader in the disability field of course, but I was always impressed by the diversity of the causes he took up – the victims of rape is one which comes to mind, but there were many more.

    His courage in persisting with his role in Parliament and making such a success of it after the sudden onset of deafness goes without saying – it must have meant quite an adjustment for the family as a whole – but I was also greatly struck by his indomitable spirit towards the end of his life when he insisted on carrying on with his work to the limit of his ability despite obviously failing health.

    To my mind he was the very best sort of campaigner – resolute and uncompromising where necessary and refusing to take no for an answer – but also eschewing the more extreme positions which people sometimes take up. I recall with gratitude his support when we wrote to peers together in order to disabuse them of misinformation spread about the attitudes of and threat to disabled people from an amendment about assisted dying. His advocacy, while it could be hard-hitting, was eminently balanced and sensible with his feet planted firmly on the ground.

    He was an inspiration to generations of disabled people. Thanks to him, the field of disability will never be the same. We will all miss him a great deal and our public life will be the poorer for his passing.

  125. On behalf of the British Deaf Association (BDA) and myself I offer our heartfelt condolences as the sad passing of Lord Ashley. I knew Lord Ashley or Jack for many years, starting back when we were militants of a kindred kind campaigning for the rights of deaf and disabled people, and especially when he became the Minister for the Disabled, and through those meetings I felt we had developed a mutual trust and bond.

    I got to know Lord Ashley when I was producer on the BBC See Hear programme and took him to Toronto Canada to film a documentary re two deaf politicians, both different but similar. One relied on a palantypist (and Pauline), the other full-time sign language interpreters, and we spent some happy moments eating lobster quite regularly :))) . Jack also hosted a Chat show for us and his experiences as a previous BBC producer shone throughout and he was a delight to work with.

    Lord Ashley will be greatly missed, but his legacy is still there shining like a beacon, it was a great privilege to have known such a fighter for deaf & disabled rights.

  126. I first met Jack in 1949 at the Cambridge Labour Club and our background meant we became almost daily companions immersed in the Union Society politics, leading to his election as President. At his request, during his tour of the USA, I went to see his mother and family and on his return I helped him to meet with Pauline while she completed her degree course. Until I left to go abroad, we met often in London and with Pauline’s help we were able to have long phone conversations despite his increasing deafness. Both Marie and I were delighted to have tea with him at the House of Lords some years ago and for him to autograph his book. His friendship meant a great deal to me and like so many others I shall miss him deeply.

  127. Until my retirement four yers ago I had the priviledge of acting as link teacher to Ashley School Council in Widnes.
    For successive young councillors the highlight of the year was their annual meeting held in the House of Lords with Lord Ashley.
    Lord Ashleys stature shone through these meetings. He warmed to the childrens questions, he gave advice, praised their involvement in the community and listened to theirs ideas and opinions. He gave his all.
    These visits to me encapsulated all that we knew of Lord Ashley – he was a servant to the vulnerable and a beacon for our democracy.
    Britains finest politician whose deeds, thoughts and inspiration will live on.

  128. Along with countless others, we were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Lord Ashley.

    Lord Ashley has been Patron of Widnes & Runcorn Cancer Support Group since February 2005. With his passing, we have lost a good friend and a great Champion for our Centre. Lord Ashley, who was happy for us to call him “Jack” took a keen interest in the services we provide for the people of Halton. We particularly valued his wise guidance and support even when he was unable to travel up to Widnes. When we had funding problems in 2007, Jack used his great letter writing skills to get us answers we would not otherwise have had and this helped us to move forward. On his visits to our Support Centre, we were always impressed with Jack’s humility and great sense of humour.

    Widnes should be extremely proud to be the birth place of Lord Jack, a lad from humble beginnings who had such a great influence on the whole Nation. His hard-fought gains for disabled people are a lasting legacy to his steely determination, which was overlaid with a charming smile and a gentle manner. We at the Cancer Support Centre salute Lord Jack and send our sincere condolences to his family.

  129. Jack Ashley was a true inspiration to son many, not least myself.

    I always remember his kindness and gentle demeanour yet the determination to make a difference.

    We wish to express our deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

  130. When I entered parliament in 1970 Jack was a leading member of a group of MPs working for the implementation of the Alf Morris’ Act and in 1974 I became Secretary of the All Party Disablement group working with Jack who was the Chairman.During the following 13 years as Secretary and then 10 years as joint Chairman I had the pleasure of working closely with him in many campaigns and came to admire and respect his determination,courage and a wonderful sense of humour. ,

  131. Jack was the senior MP here in Stoke on Trent when I was first elected in 1987. I simply want to reiterate what I said to local media on hearing the sad news of his death. He was held in the highest esteem by the people of Stoke on Trent and by his parliamentary colleagues, his service was unstinting in every way, his campaigning zeal and commitment to his socialist principles shone through in everything he did. We could not have had a better champion locally and nationally. It was fitting that he was on the final list of Stoke on Trent city Council’s Citizen of the Century in last year’s centenary of the Federation of the 6 Towns. He and Pauline too were unstintingly supportive to me as a new MP. Even though it is some time since he left the Commons, I k now that his cocntribution to the House of Lords was equally valuable. I miss him around the Palace of Westminster, and my thoughts are with his family.

    Thank you Jack.

  132. I shall always have fond memories of Jack Ashley. I heard him speak on my first day in the House of Commons in 1970 and was impressed then, as I continued to be, by his determination and courage, and unfailing good humour. Later, I came to know him as a trusted colleague and friend amongst Staffordshire M.P.s and, when I chaired the group, he was always supportive and never, I think, missed a meeting. The epithet ‘great’ should be very sparingly used but Jack is one who deserves it.

  133. I met Jack just three times and was amazed he remembered my name & face both the second & third times. For me Jack’s legacy cannot be matched, his achievements had a positive impact on countless lives and all this with a warmth & gentleness masking a steely determination. You were immensely admired and loved, Jack.

  134. ‘Thank you’ Jack, for being such a wondeful person and, while you were ‘moving mountains’, managing to never lose sight of the important things in life.

  135. Jack Ashley was a man of true stature, unstintingly kind, with a passion to transform conditions for the disabled across multiple boundaries. In all my conversations with him over the years, his focus was always to make a difference, whatever the Bill coming before the House. He was an inspiration to us all, his advocacy fearless, his message measured, articulate and compelling, his energy indefatiguable. He will be much missed. My heartfelt condolences to all his family, Alixe

  136. I am very proud to have known Jack, worked for him, spoken to him and have been inspired by him.
    He the most remarkable person I have ever met.
    A man of great humor and enthusiasm, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
    Jack, thank you for sharing your knowledge, may you rest in peace knowing the good you have left to this world.
    Thank you Jack for everything – I will always remember you.

  137. I had the privilege of working alongside Jack Ashley when I was Chairman of the Hearing Research Trust as well as on many occasions on House of Lords business.

    He was passionate about everything he did. A true gentleman who will be sorely missed.

  138. It was with great sadness that our department learnt of the death of Lord Jack Ashley. Jack was one of our first cochlear implant patients, receiving his device almost 20 years ago. Whereas the public knew him as an influential and vocal member of parliament and a prominent campaigner for the deaf, we were privileged to see the more sensitive side of Jack – as a patient. And what a treat that was!

    Having Jack as a patient meant your morning would be filled with humour, quirky one liners and laughter, despite the difficulties he was experiencing with his hearing and his health. Never once did he complain or express dissatisfaction towards his situation and alternatively put a positive slant on any misfortunes such as making the most of his motorised wheelchair, enjoying the chase as he speed up the hospital corridor with us attempting to keep up! Even in his last few months, where he was clearly not performing as well as he used to with the cochlear implant and struggling with communication, he always showed gratitude towards any member of staff. He will be missed by all those who knew him at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital and even though his work on earth is now done, his legacy will live forever.

  139. I shared many an hour with Lord Ashley as he taught me how to be an effective parliamentarian over the years. When me met I was a young disability rights campaigner and advocate ! Four years ago I entered the House of Lords where Jack became my mentor and dear friend. I fought beside him during his final private members Bill – the Independent Living Bill . When he eventually handed over the chairmanship of the All Party Parliamentary Disability Group to me after 40 years of successful leadership, I felt greatly honoured. Jack’s was an impossible act to follow, but with his thoughtful guidance my confidence grew and I have been told we still have the most well-attended of all the APPGs in the Palace!

    Jack’s legacy will continue for as long as disabled people are campaigning for social justice. History will remember him always.

  140. I remember Jack well from when we were on the Board of United Kingdom Council on Deafness together. He had strong beliefs on disability issues and we had some very interesting debates stemming from our differing views, as I am culturally Deaf and a BSL user. We always respected each other, both in our points of view and personally, and after the meetings we had really good chats about politics and current affairs when walking together to the station. What a man!
    RIP Jack Ashley.

  141. You have our sincere condolences on the loss of your father.
    Words seemed inadequate to express the sadness we felt on hearing the news. Last time I saw `Jack` – Lord Ashley, Baron of Stoke (and Freeman of the City) was at our Citizen of the Century Awards. He served our City well for 26 years and earned respect across the spectrum for his tireless campaigning on behalf of the disadvantaged. He was an inspiration to people with disability in the UK and a true gentleman … always remembered and never forgotten.

  142. We at DEAF LIFE Magazine (which is published in Rochester, New York, on this side of the Atlantic) extend our condolences to the family of Lord Jack Ashley, and to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, working with him, and benefiting from his tireless advocacy. We need more leaders and politicians like that, but, alas, he was one of a kind. England was blessed to have had him.

  143. Jack, you were a very special person in every way. Even though you’re not here, your wonderfully contagious laugh will continue to warm our hearts. God bless.

  144. It was an honour to attend Lord Ashley’s memorial service today. What a truly remarkable man. He impressed my parents decades ago in Widnes and continued to impress everyone in so many ways. There can be no finer legacy to leave than to signifcantly improve the lives of others, and Lord Ashley’s legacy will be remembered for decades.

  145. We went to Jack’s Memorial yesterday to join in with the hundreds of others who wanted to acknowledge his work for disabled people and to say “thank you” for what he achieved. Our Helen was vaccine damaged and while enjoying the interesting meeting in Church House she would not have known what it was all about. For her and those similarily disabled we say Very Sincere Thanks Jack.

  146. Mondays service could not have been any more perfect. A wonderful celebration of a life that made such a difference to thousands of others. “the stair case to heaven will indeed be ramped by now”

  147. Thank you, Jack Ashley for all you did for deaf people. We are fortunate to have lived with your splendid example. Thank you.

  148. This is the report I filed on this month’s memorial event:

    Friends, family, colleagues and other admirers of the deaf peer Jack Ashley have paid tribute to the integrity, determination and “bloody-minded passion” of “one of history’s great civil rights leaders”.
    A memorial event in Westminster that celebrated the life and achievements of Lord Ashley – who died in April – was attended by many of the country’s most influential disabled figures, and addressed by both the Labour leader Ed Miliband and his brother David, a close family friend of the Ashleys.
    The family also announced that the Commons speaker, John Bercow, was setting up an annual Jack Ashley lecture on disability issues, with the first one set to take place this autumn in Speaker’s House, his official Commons residence.
    Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds, a thalidomide survivor, said she and fellow survivors would be “forever indebted to him” for his commitment to securing compensation for her and the other “thalidomide children”, and that he would be remembered with “great affection”.
    She added: “Above all, Jack Ashley, Lord Jack Ashley, was, is and always will be a man for all people.”
    Ed Miliband called Lord Ashley an “extraordinary man” who displayed “extraordinary courage and determination”, and said: “I don’t think that you could imagine somebody who embodied more of the qualities you would want in somebody who would be an MP, a peer, a councillor, or indeed a friend.”
    He said there were “millions of people who are living and will live better lives” because of Jack Ashley’s campaigning.
    His brother David, a friend of the peer’s daughter Caroline for nearly 30 years, paid tribute to his “passion, integrity, honesty and humanity”.
    The memorial heard how Jack Ashley had lost his hearing and begun to experience severe tinnitus in 1967, initially announcing that he would step down as an MP, only to be persuaded by his constituents to stay on.
    He learned to lip-read, and rebuilt what had been a promising political career with the support of his wife, Pauline.
    The memorial event heard that, as a result of his work on Alf (later Lord) Morris’s chronically sick and disabled persons bill, Jack Ashley set up the all-party parliamentary disability group (APPDG) in 1969, and later worked closely as chair of the group with the disability charity RADAR (now Disability Rights UK).
    Agnes Fletcher, who was a researcher for the APPDG and was director of policy and communications at the Disability Rights Commission, said Jack Ashley was a campaigner “from his heart to his head and his fingertips”.
    She said: “Jack rejected sentimentality – he wanted action and not words.”
    She described him as “patient and persistent”, a “consummate communicator” who could be “lacerating in his righteous indignation” and was “adored” by all the researchers who worked with him.
    Fletcher said he was “inviting disabled people into the corridors of power” through the APPDG “long before the concept of co-production” was adopted by politicians.
    She concluded: “This wonderful man changed for the better the lives of many thousands of people. We owe it to Jack to defend and build on the legacy with blood-minded passion and persistence. That will be our tribute and our thanks.”
    Ashley worked as a profoundly deaf MP for 25 years, and later partially regained his hearing through a cochlear implant after he became a Labour peer.
    Lord [Neil] Kinnock, the former Labour leader, said Jack Ashley was “a hero”, paid tribute to the “tenacity, vitality” and “raw courage” that “gave him the lifelong will to achieve liberating victories for others”, and described how he had fought against “the way that ordinary people are hurt by the misuse of power”.
    He also described how Jack Ashley’s campaigning work on the chronically sick and disabled persons bill in 1969 pulled him “out of the isolation and exile of deafness… He became a projectile against the causes, the effects, the privations and deprivations of disabilities.”
    He concluded: “He established foundations to be built on here and emulated across the world.
    “He was one of history’s great civil rights leaders and among the finest parliamentarians of any age.”
    Lord [Bernard] Donoughue, a close friend of Jack Ashley’s for 50 years, said he had been “most struck by his integrity, dedication and determination to change things for the better” and that at their last meeting earlier this year he was “still funny, still no-nonsense, never a victim, always a champion”.
    Another close friend and fellow peer, Lord Morris, described Jack Ashley as “a peer and yet peerless”, and said: “The world is a poorer place for his passing.”
    David Livermore, former chair of RNID, said he was “an inspiration to deaf people, a deaf person right at the centre of the political life of this country”.
    Lord Ashley’s daughter Jane said her father was “like a silver bubble rising up in the water that just could not be pushed down”.
    Lord Ashley’s grandchildren read extracts from his 1992 autobiography, Acts of Defiance, and some of the tributes that have been left on the website set up by the family to celebrate his life.
    Among the leading disabled figures who attended the memorial service were Sir Bert Massie, Dr Rachel Perkins, Phil Friend, Liz Sayce, Alice Maynard and Lord [Colin] Low.
    High-ranking members of the Labour party who attended included Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman, Jack Straw, Douglas Alexander, Frank Dobson and Chris Smith.
    There were also politicians from across the political divide, such as the Liberal Democrats Stephen Lloyd, himself a deaf MP, and Baroness [Shirley] Williams, the crossbench peer Lord [David] Owen, and the Conservative ministers Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling.

  149. Jack Ashley was a pioneer of the campaign for state aid to help with the additional expenses of disability. I remember we debt we owed to him in coming to speak at the inaugural meeting of a branch of The Disablement Income Group, DIG, in the Fairfield Hall, Croydon in the early !970s.

  150. My mum made me aware of Jack Ashley as a particularly good Labour MP. His stance on deafness and hearing impairment and his ability to lead such an important and active life was very influential on my own life and work. When I started to support (in a small way) Action on Hearing after a profound hearing loss in my left ear, I was really pleased to know he was so involved with the charity and loved receiving the Christmas card with his signature (copied). I placed it in a prominent position as though it was a personal card to me and told others who it was from!! He was inspirational and I can only imagine how his daughters and family will miss him BUT such good memories for them.

  151. I was so sorry when this wonderful man died. Having lost most of my hearing in my mid 30’s I had to work very hard to maintain my work as head teacher of a primary school. I found inspiration in following Jack’s activities on behalf of all those with disabilities and in his own perseverance to overcome his own disability. When I became a trustee of the British Tinnitus Association I had hoped to meet him but sadly I did not. Inspired by his desire to help others I used my teaching skill to teach lipreading to adults and to create a website where hard of hearing people could practise their skills. Thank you Jack for your passion, your humanity and your inspirational life. Gloria McGregor

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