Ray Hainton: 29 October 1921 – 9 February 2012

IssueApril 2012
Comment by Joanna Bazley

My mother Raymonde ‘Ray’ Hainton, peace activist, Quaker and former teacher and medical social worker, died peacefully on 19 February 2012, aged 90.

As a result of her wartime evacuation to Cambridge, she met and married fellow-historian Godfrey Hainton. Ray’s wartime experiences left her with a strong commitment to working for a better world, and she was a campaigner throughout most of her long and active life. After many years of religious uncertainty, she became a Quaker in 1969, joining Richmond and then Plymouth Meetings before helping to found a new Quaker Meeting in Tavistock.

Godfrey’s sudden death in 1976 was a shattering blow but Ray managed to pull her life together, helped initially by the urgent need to complete Godfrey’s study of Derwent Coleridge, second son of the poet and first principal of St Mark’s College. Their joint book The Unknown Coleridge was eventually published in 1996.

Coming home from a conference on nuclear disarmament at Woodbrooke college in 1980, Ray was determined to set up a local peace group – the Tavistock Peace Action Group, which still flourishes today. Ray moved to Exeter in 1986 and almost immediately became secretary of Exeter CND, a post which she held for the next 20 years. She helped build up one of the largest CND branches in the country, joined the International Committee of CND, studied Russian and Spanish, and travelled to the Soviet Union and to Cuba in Quaker people-to-people exchanges intended to break down the barriers of the Iron Curtain.

She also made links with the anti-nuclear movement in Brittany and with the French Mouvement de la Paix. She was a vigorous speaker, lobbyist and street campaigner, giving media interviews, taking part in public debates, visiting schools and organising the volunteer staff of the Exeter Peace Shop. Her arrest at the Aldermaston blockade in 2000 generated huge local publicity.

Ray was a lover of the outdoors. She was a keen gardener and a great walker, continuing to walk on Dartmoor and swim in the sea until well into her eighties. After moving to Northampton in 2008, she continued her relentless peace work.

Failing health made her final six months a trial, but she endured illness with typical courage and remained mentally alert until the end.

She is survived by her daughters Joanna and Julia and their families.

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