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Judi Lewis - A Tribute

July 14, 2022 2:19 PM

Judi LewisHelen Hughes, former private secretary to Emlyn Hooson was a close colleague and friend of Judi Lewis, one of the founder members of the Lloyd George Society who sadly died on 18 June. Helen's personal trubute to Judi is attached below.

The photograph of Judi was kindly supplied by the family and we understand it shows Judi at the time she received her MBE.

My memories of Judi Lewis (1938 - 2022)

I first met Judi at a Welsh Liberal Party meeting in 1973, just after she had started working for Geraint Howells who was then the Liberal Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Ceredigion. When Geraint won the seat in the following year Judi became a very welcome colleague at the House of Commons where I had worked as Private Secretary to Emlyn Hooson since 1968. As were the ways in the House in those days, Judi had to 'squat' in my office until the SerjeantatArms could be prevailed upon to find her a desk elsewhere. It was a small office which I shared with the private secretaries to Tom Ellis, MP for Wrexham, John Smith, future leader of the Labour Party, and Sir Gerald Nabarro, all of whom were frequent visitors to our windowless room in the Upper Committee Corridor North. What an interesting mix!

Readers will have already read of the outstanding contribution Judi made to Welsh Liberal and Lib Dem politics. Her roots were firmly set in West Wales, her father coming from Newport in North Pembrokeshire and her mother from New Quay in Ceredigion. The family lived near Aberystwyth where her father was Head of Applied Mathematics at the University College of Wales, a post to which he was appointed at the age of 33. He was a very strong Liberal andhe gave the only published talk in Welsh on the Theory of Relativity on the BBC. A very clever man, he had studied in Bonn, Zurich and Cologne after obtaining his First Class HonoursDegree from Aberystwyth. Judi's mother was a graduate of UCL.

Judi was the middle of their five children and became the matriarch of the family when, very sadly, both her parents had died at a young age. She was only 18 and just embarking on her undergraduate studies atUCW Aberystwyth when she lost her mother, her father having died six years previously. Her older brothers were away at university and she had to care for her two younger siblings. She had also been diagnosed with a serious lung condition, the effects of which she was to suffer for the rest of her life. Despite these considerable setbacks, Judi graduated with a BA (Hons) in Welsh Language and Literature.

Before working at Westminster Judi had been a Welsh Language Press Officer for TWW (Television Wales and the West) and the PRO for the Welsh National Opera and personal assistant to James Lockhart, the Musical Director. With this background, Judi was ideally suited to her role as Geraint Howells's Personal Assistant and Agent. She and Geraint made a superb team in serving the constituents of Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire. Their respective gifts complemented each other perfectly. Her love of music, and opera in particular, was a huge part of Judi's life. Through her work at the WNO she knew many prominent opera singers and I remember going with her to a BBC lunchtime concert at St John's, Smith Square, where she introduced me to her friend, Thomas Allen! Whenever I phoned Judi in recent years, she was invariably listening to music - a great solace to her as her health declined and she found it difficult to leave her home in Penarth.

Those who knew Judi will remember her with enormous affection. She was highly intelligent and perceptive with a great sense of humour and fun. Always interested in the younger generation, she was immensely proud of her family of nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. I know that all Judi's friends in the Lloyd George Society and Welsh Lib Dem circles in Wales will join me in sending our very sincere sympathy to Judi's brother, Tom, and to all the family on the loss of a very special person in their lives. We wish them to know how much her talents and friendship meant to us over the years.

Helen Hughes