Leeds campaigner and widow of MP dies at 88

Joyce Wainwright.
Joyce Wainwright.
Have your say

A SOCIAL campaigner and veteran of the Liberal Party has died at the age of 88.

Joyce Wainwright was married to the late Liberal MP Richard Wainwright, who represented the West Yorkshire seat of Colne Valley from 1974 to 1987, and for an earlier period from 1966.

She was also a trustee of a family charity which has donated many thousands of pounds to charities and good causes in Yorkshire, the north of England and Africa.

Among the many donations made by the Scurrah-Wainwright Trust was £105,000 to fund the statue of RAF hero Arthur Aaron – voted for by Yorkshire Evening Post readers in a competition.

The statue, on the Eastgate roundabout in Leeds, was commissioned by Leeds Civic Trust in conjunction with the YEP and Leeds City Council.

Despite being an MP’s wife at a time when the role was mainly a supportive one, Mrs Wainwright was an outspoken activist and campaigner in her own right.

She was born Joyce Hollis on February 17, 1922, into a Leeds family – her father was senior church warden at Leeds Parish Church. She became a nurse, and during the Second World War worked at Guy’s hospital in London.

The Wainwrights were also a long-established Leeds family. Richard and Joyce married in 1948.

Mrs Wainwright shared her husband’s enthusiasm and commitment to Liberal politics.

She was an active member of Yorkshire Women’s Liberal Federation, and chairwoman of Colne Valley Women’s Liberal Council.

She took up Mr Wainwright’s dedication to Methodism, and became a devotee of Gipton Methodist Church, where her funeral will take place on Friday.

The couple lived in Cookridge, but later took over the Wainwright family’s large house in Adel.

They were renowned for treating its splendid gardens as a public amenity, holding open days and letting the grounds be used for charitable functions.

Mrs Wainwright accompanied her husband on a fact-finding mission to Guinea Bassau in Africa to meet guerillas fighting Portuguese colonial rule.

In the 1970s, they gave up the top floor of their home to a Ugandan-Asian family driven out during the reign of the tyrant Idi Amin.

The Scurrah-Wainwright Trust was created in 1991, along with the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust supporting activities focussed on political change, through the sale of the family business, Leeds medical manufacturers Charles F Thackray Ltd.

Richard and Joyce Wainwright had two daughters, Hilary and Tessa, and two sons, Martin and Andrew. Andrew died more than 20 years ago.