Shirley Hadi 1925 - 2003
"A Person of Calm Passion"
Shirley was born on July 10th 1925 during the early years of the emancipation of women. Her Mum was Beatrice Maude known as “Daisy” and her father, Percy Appleby was a Ship’s Chandlers specialising in the Baltic Shipping Lines. She had six brothers and sisters. They lived in Deptford, a part of London that along with much of the country suffered great financial hardships in the years leading to the Second World War. Indeed, the poverty that so outraged her as a child in Deptford made her a lifelong socialist.
Shirley’s education was interrupted, or enhanced, which ever way one looks at it by her evacuation to America during the war years. Her subsequent education at Ivy League Universities in east coast America formed her intellectually and she started to put into practice those political philosophies which she pursued so passionately throughout her life. She became a member of the communist party and campaigned for a communist Presidential candidate in 1947. No one can deny she was a woman of strong ethical and political commitments.
In the 1950s she went to the Sudan. Again this move was prompted by political passion. She had been travelling to a political event in Hungary or Bulgaria. She found herself in a train compartment with a communist delegation from The Railway Workers Trade Union of the Sudan. She was highly impressed by their sound politics and their wonderful looks. She kept in touch by letter and felt excited about the workers’ struggle in the Sudan. So she decided to join them. She presented herself at the Sudanese Embassy in London and told them they should employ her. Which they duly did.
In the Sudan Shirley met and married a talented young textile designer, Hassan el Hadi, and she had a baby boy, Rashid. She had the same personal qualities then, which she retained for the next 40 years: total moral and political conviction (at times invigorating and at other times immovable), intellectual rigour, aesthetic appreciation and great enjoyment of a good time.
On her return to England she started work as a teacher in Slough and then became a researcher in education. Her final and longest lasting job was as a teacher of English to immigrants in Southall, at a centre where she ended her career as Acting Principal.
After retirement, unlike others who relax and rest from their work, Shirley became even more active and worked tirelessly for the local community and in support of other political initiatives. She was admired and respected by people of all political persuasions.
Local Conservative Councillor, Paul Lynch had this to say of her, “Shirley was a good friend and a tireless and upright campaigner for the community, a gadfly who energised the complacent. It is good to hear that the end was peaceful, and that her illness was short, but it is so sad to think of that vigour and energy and that source of encouragement being stilled.
I hope that, if you give a tribute, you might mention that the Conservative Party respected her commitment and dedication, and held her in affection for her good humour and kindness”.
Pat Sterne of the Labour Party paid this tribute to Shirley:
"Shirley's passing is a huge loss to the Chiswick community. She cared enormously about the quality of life, especially the environment and of course the library at the heart of Chiswick. She had vision. She was one of the founders of the Corney Reach Trust, now the Chiswick Pier Trust. Is it possible to be a person of calm passion? Shirley was just that. She took a view of an issue and held on to it with charm, patience and tenacious courage. She will be sorely missed."
Kathleen Healey of the Friends of Dukes Meadows said this of Shirley
“Because of Shirley and others who campaigned with her a community centre and public pier were included in the development at Corney Reach, which will be enjoyed by people for years to come.
For the millennium a community party was organised in the centre. It was a magical night. Children played football outside in the rain and were joined by some of the adults. It was such fun that Shirley couldn't resist joining in and that is something else I will always remember about Shirley, her joy in and love of life”.
Her house was always open, and she gave refuge, advice, help and encouragement to many throughout her life. She was never without a plan or a project, a journey to make, a friend to see, or someone to help.
When she learned she had cancer she became busier than ever, travelling to Australia to see her grandsons, going to Turkey, Cyprus and Germany, as well as trips in the UK.
She leaves behind a son, Rashid and three grandsons, Jimmie, Louie and Max.
October 21, 2003