My friend Gladys Montgomery, who has died aged 96, was an avowed socialist from an early age, with a strong desire to make the world a fairer place.
Monty was the most robust of women. Daughter of Emily (nee Whittaker) and Willy Muirhead, she was born and brought up in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and despite spending a substantial part of her life in east Devon, never lost her Yorkshire accent or identity. After leaving school aged 14, she worked in the local mills before making her contribution to the second world war effort by undertaking physically hard work in local factories.
She cut a striking figure in her youth, tall and strong and was active in a wide range of organisations from the Women’s Institute, with its pantomimes and plays, to the Labour party, of which she was a stalwart and reliable member. In 1941 she married Raymond Montgomery and in the late 1940s they moved to Exmouth, where Gladys brought up their three sons and subsequently worked as a dinner lady.
She dealt with the blow of Raymond’s death in 1982 by immersing herself in an active life in the town. She was a keen gardener, walker, loved birds and wildlife, and could be relied upon to help at fetes and charity events. She was a longstanding volunteer for the local branch of Oxfam and always had time to engage with customers on a wide range of issues. She was also a very hands-on grandmother.
More recently, Monty became interested in adventurous travel across the globe, and would return enthused by what she had seen and experienced. Even in the last few months of her life, when she showed increasing signs of frailty, she was keen to engage in conversation.
She is survived by her sons, David, Richard and Peter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.