– remembered by Tony Atienza
Edwin Hornsby Dare
Born: 8 Aug. 1919
Died: 29 Sept. 2010.
Although Eddie Dare’s father had served at sea in the First World War, he himself followed the traditions of his ancestors who had been millers in Devonshire. He trained as a baker and as a young man worked in the sweltering basement ovens of east and south London. At first he cycled the city streets delivering bread, as well as medicines for a local doctor, to earn a bit on the side. Later he wrote a fascinating article describing the long night hours and appalling conditions in these underground bakeries during the thirties.
The eldest of seven siblings he suffered from polio as a child and experienced the tragedy of a brother’s suicide.
Towards the end of the thirties Eddie had followed his father to sea as a baker on the Union Castle Line. It was on a visit to South Africa, going ashore in Durban, that he was shocked to see the working conditions, and the apartheid on the docks. This experience determined the rest of his life – it gave him his philosophy, which was a fighting one.
Back in Britain he soon became involved in politics, joining the Labour, and eventually the Communist Party.
He came into my life sixty years ago, after the War, when he moved with his wife, Olive, and their daughters, Janet and Ann, to the L.C.C. estate at Debden, in Essex. I had just arrived in the nearby village of Theydon Bois, having also joined the Communist Party at university. (Those were the days!)
One day he knocked on my door and from then on we set out to change the world.
We built a Communist branch – he as secretary and I as chairman. What an inspiration he was! We ran meetings and walked miles round the 6,000 houses in Debden, knocking on doors and handing out leaflets.
By now, in the 1950s and 60s, I was a teacher and Eddie was at the bottom of the Civil Service ladder. Down the years he was promoted steadily, entirely through his skill as a member of the social security and health ministries. He never seems to have taken examinations, but promotion boards never turned him down.
By the time we both retired in the early 1980s we were both earning about £15,000 p.a., I as a headmaster and he as a senior executive officer.
In his union he was a brilliant organiser; for three years he was elected chairman of the Marx Memorial Library; he was a key member of the committee of the Socialist History Society where he revived and ran its lively Newsletter; he took part in several of this society’s publications, including one concerned with East End Jewish bakers. The Press often received his letters.
Sadly, Eddie and Olive’s younger daughter, Ann, died at an early age after a long illness, although happily she left him grandchildren. Strangely, Olive died early in 1998 within a week of my own wife.
Eddie took pride in all his grandchildren, Monique, Scott, Barney and Zoe, and in his great-grandchildren, Stephan, Sophie, Suzanna, and Clara. He took a great interest in all of them and was fascinated to know their futures.
Down the years Eddie and I have taken part in so many campaigns: peace movements; Trafalgar Square rallies, moved so many resolutions. We spent many holidays together, especially camping all over France. Once three of us squashed into a mini and drove through France to Madrid and Valencia.
Eddie was always fond of people, enjoying company and vigorous discussion.
After 91 years he had a fall and broke his right arm, suffering a miserable but brief stay in hospital. Back at home he had another fall but soon rallied and chatted to the ambulance crew who had been called, telling them of his ongoing campaigning and stating, just before being helped into bed by the paramedic and his daughter Janet:
“So it’s on to a hundred. I love life. The world is an interesting place and I want to see what happens.”
He passed away that night in his sleep.
Tony Atienza, October 4th 2010