Obituary: Anne Randle: 7 August 1941 - 30 October 2023

IssueJune - July 2024
Comment by Mo Moseley

Anne Randle was one of the four people who, in 1966, helped Soviet spy George Blake escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison and flee to Russia.

As a young woman, Anne Parr was active in the Committee of 100 which organised mass civil disobedience against nuclear weapons, starting in February 1961. This is where she met Michael Randle, the man who became her partner and husband for 61 years and the father of her two children, Sean and Gavin.

Michael also helped Blake to escape, along with Sean Bourke and Pat Pottle.

George Blake was an MI6 agent who changed sides and worked for the Soviet government, was caught and jailed. None of the four people involved in Blake’s escape shared his illusions about the Communist Party dictatorship in Russia. Instead, they were horrified by his being sentenced to 42 years when the maximum penalty for spying is 14.

Anne gave Michael permission to work on the escape, suggested knitting needles as the rungs for the rope ladder thrown over the prison wall, and was in the van that drove Blake, concealed in the back, from London to East Germany. So far, so good.

Four years later, in 1970, Sean Bourke wrote a book about the escape, openly stating his own role, and effectively naming the other three. Panic, but no action from the police. Fast forward to 1987: the Sunday Times names Michael and Pat, outraged Conservative MPs complain in the House of Commons, and the police arrest Michael and Pat (but not Anne!) for helping spring Blake.

And a jury acquits them, despite their obvious – and admitted – guilt. More shades of today.

At the age of 40, as her sons Sean and Gavin grew up, Anne trained as a nurse, becoming a senior nurse in A&E. In the ’80s, she attended Greenham Common and, in the ’90s, she volunteered as a nurse at Glastonbury. She was a keen singer, swimmer, gardener and cook.

After retirement, Anne continued living in Shipley, West Yorkshire, with Michael. She was taken ill just before she turned 82 and went into hospital, dying peacefully in a Marie Curie hospice with her husband and children beside her.

A wake, which included the Peace Artistes Street Band, was held in Shipley on 22 November.

Anne is survived by Michael, Sean and Gavin, and three grandchildren, Freya, Ben and Elah.

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