Hemel Hempstead Constituency Labour Party is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of local Labour member and NHS campaigner Betty Harris.

Following the sad news, Mandi Tattershall, Chair of Hemel Hempstead CLP, has written these words of remembrance:

I didn’t know Betty Harris as well as some. Her commitment to Dacorum Hospital Action Group and the campaign to secure a local hospital made her something of a Hemel folk hero. She came to represent the campaign for the hospital and embody a sense of what can be achieved when we work together as a community.

I first met Betty properly when I was standing as Labour’s candidate in the General Election of 2017. Betty had been a long-standing member of the Labour Party and had played a role when Labour last ran Dacorum council. She had let her membership lapse, however, on a point of principle, because she felt that the original handling of the decision to downgrade her beloved hospital had been mishandled. And she was right.

However, Betty had felt the time was right to re-join Labour and I was delighted when she agreed to take part in in a video with me to talk about the hospital. We had a hilarious afternoon fluffing our lines in front of the camera and at one point with Betty sitting on my knee. It made me feel incredibly proud to receive such encouragement from someone who had earned the love and respect from the community and whose support, and shared values, showed me that I was on the right path.

That day will remain with me forever, not least because it also marked the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Betty’s example inspired me to become even more involved in the community and to try and change things if I think they are wrong.

She will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones along with the army of campaigners and activists who have lost a very special lady and friend. Hemel Hempstead has lost a guiding star.

Betty’s JustGiving page for people living with dementia is here.

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