Winifred Wheable-Archer obituary

Other lives: Local councillor dedicated to the Labour party

My great-aunt, Winifred Wheable-Archer, who has died aged 98, led a life dedicated to the Labour movement. She worked in local government in Nottingham, Salford and Leeds, and was a Labour member of Kirklees metropolitan district council for five years from 1982.

Even during her retirement, Win’s commitment to the Labour party and active civic life did not waver. She was vice-chair of the National Council for Carers of the Elderly and on the National Board of Sanctuary Housing. Win was a staunch supporter of the National Coal Mining Museum, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and would always urge visitors to her home in the village of Upper Denby to pay a visit.

Affectionately known as the Duchess of Denby by friends in the local Labour party, Win was a constant source of support and advice and even in her 90s her house had a stream of callers. Her strong character and devilish sense of humour will not be forgotten.

Win, her twin sister, Alice, and brother, Will, were born and grew up in Nottinghamshire, with their parents, Tess (nee Mullen) and Tom Nally. Win’s father was a miner and both parents were involved in the 1926 strike, supporting mining families.

Win’s adult life was also touched by political events. Ron Barber, whom she married in 1940, fought in the Spanish civil war. Her brother, Will, was elected to parliament as Labour MP for Bilston when Clement Attlee swept to power in 1945.

She forged a successful career herself at a time when women in senior positions were few and far between. She worked in local government, rising to join the directorate management team for Leeds social services. She was instrumental in the development of the city’s home help service and helped to design the diploma for the Institute of Home Help Organisers.

Her first marriage ended, and Win married Jim Wheable, a businessman, in 1962 and they moved to Upper Denby. She was elected a member of Denby parish council in 1967, serving as its chair in 1981, and later to Denby Dale urban district council.

After Jim’s death in 1982, she found love again, marrying John Archer, a civil servant, in 1992. They spent eight happy years together before John died in 2000.

To mark her 90th birthday, Win’s autobiography, We Really Do Not Alter, Just Grow Older, was published in 2010. The book details Win’s life as well as some of her poetry. A second book, Poetry and Prose, was published in her 96th year.

Win is survived by her daughter, Tessa, grandsons, Lloyd, Gavin and Sadhu, and great-grandchildren, Lily, Mim, Eliza, John, Jacob, Jenna and Sofia.

• This article was amended on 4 July 2018. Winifred Wheable-Archer served as chair of Denby parish council in 1981, rather than chair of Denby Dale urban district council.

Graham Whitham

The GuardianTramp

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