Linda Harvey obituary

Other lives: Campaigner who turned despair into action

My sister Linda Harvey and I would often discuss the world’s problems, feeling they were totally beyond our power to rectify, but every now and then Linda, who has died aged 77, would seize hold of an issue – the Biafran famine of the late 1960s was the first I remember – and refuse to let it go.

She took part in CND vigils at military establishments, organised fundraising events for charities including ShelterBox and the RNLI, and got involved with anything, in fact, where she felt that someone should do something to help. Each Christmas Day, she would dash into (and very quickly out of) the sea to raise funds for the NSPCC. Linda’s sense of community was very strong, too, and she put as much effort into creating a local market in her home village, Carnon Downs, near Truro, Cornwall, as into trying to create a fairer world.

To have cared so much about the disadvantaged; to have turned her despair at the plight of the starving, the homeless, the abused and the neglected, into action; and to have made her small corner of the world a little bit kinder: these were rare accomplishments.

The second of seven children of Bernard and Joanne Caldwell, Linda was born in Coventry, where our father was a factory worker. Our early lives were affected by the second world war, the family being forced to move house at least twice because of bomb damage. When Linda left school, she trained as a nurse and began work at Coventry hospital. She married Stanley Savage, a toolmaker, in 1962, and together they moved to Cornwall, a venture that did not, however, bring the hoped-for benefits. They divorced in 1975.

Linda met and in 1989 married Richard Harvey, whose love of botany had led him to set up a garden maintenance business. With his help and example, she came to realise that limitless riches were on offer to those who made a bit more effort. No longer letting life seem a series of obstacles, she started to become the remarkable woman she had always had the potential to be. She also created a quality B&B in Carnon Down and built a network of valued friends.

Because of Richard’s love of the great outdoors, Linda became a keen walker, taking part in dozens of events with the Long Distance Walkers’ Association – anything up to 25 miles in a day. When her knees began to give trouble, she devoted herself to helping Richard train for events such as the punishing Bob Graham Round in the Lake District, providing a mobile 24-hour canteen, even though she was no longer able to take part.

Linda is survived by Richard, and by three children, Julie, Michelle and Simon, from her first marriage, two grandchildren, Sarah and Emma, and four great-grandchildren, Caiden, Jasmine, Lewis and Lily.

Bob Caldwell

The GuardianTramp

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