tribute to Lady Masham
Lady Masham, a long term friend and supporter of EKTG the European Group for eTechnology (ektg4ehealth.org;) died at the age of 87. She was the longest serving female member of the House of Lords, a passionate disability campaigner and a medal-winning Paralympian.
She was engaged to David Cunliffe-Lister, when she sadly had a tragic Riding Accident but they continued their plans to marry which they did in 1959.
David Cunliffe- Lister, Lord Masham (1937–2006), who became Earl of Swinton in 1972 and by this marriage, she became entitled to the honorifics Lady Masham, and, later, Countess of Swinton. She was created a life peer in the House of Lords in 1970 as the Baroness Masham of Ilton, of Masham in the North Riding of the County of York.
In 1960, she took part in the Paralympian Games in Rome and won a gold medal in the 25metre breaststroke and in 1964 won another in the women's doubles table tennis in Tokyo. She won a further six silver medals and two bronze across both sports in the three games at which
The Paralympics GB website described her as "one of Great Britain’s first ever Paralympic medallists" and "a pioneering athlete".
Lady Masham was created a life peer in 1970 and spent a total of 53 years in the House of Lords – more than any female peer in history and sat as an independent Cross Bencher.
She spent much of her life campaigning for disability rights and in 1974 founded the Spinal Injuries Association. For some time she was also a Vice President of the Professional Body for OT’s and Vice President of the Physiotherapists, a Vice President of the Snowdon Trust, founded by the Earl of Snowdon – which provides grants and scholarships for students with disabilities and a long list of other disability Organisations.
Lady Masham died peacefully in hospital in Northallerton on March 12, 2023. Her funeral took place on Friday, March 24. For years she demonstrated her willingness to talk to Ambassadors from many Nations, Professors, ordinary Practitioners, Senior Eminent people from around the world. Sue Masham made everybody feel welcome. She appeared just as happy talking to the Junior OT from some mid African Country as she was to Jackie Stewart, The Racing Driver!
Once when a Member of the EKTG Board, Maggie Ellis had arranged to meet her at the House of Lords, she and the other wheelchair users had come back to the building after a weekend to find the Carpet in one of the main Lords Corridors had been replaced. The new Carpet was so lush, it made movement of a wheelchair almost impossible and she had to be pushed round that day. After a major complaint some special spray treatment of the carpet resulted in an easier ride!
Even New Carpet at the House of Lords could be improved by her support!
The last time Members of the EKTG and colleagues met Sue Masham was when we were holding an Event at the Cholmondley Room at the House of Lords, hosted by Richard Best in June 2023. That happened on one of the days when the Public were not sure if it was a Strike Day or not. In reality there was not a Strike, just trains were in the wrong places and trains delayed.
True to the Event Sue Masham, and a couple of other Northern determined people, made the Lords good time. As did our International Ambassadors from Spain and Germany. It was a lazy person from London E16 who told us it was impossible to travel!
During the Lords Event Sue Masham was her usual cheerful self, welcoming the visitors to her place of work, making sure that everybody in the room had an opportunity to discuss their topic of interest.
A Couple of Weeks before she died Sue emailed Maggie Ellis and told her she was not feeling well. There had not had been time to question the nature of that illness when sadly her adopted Daughter, Clare, emailed to report the sad news of her death.
Such is our loss now. Not only the Longest Serving Member of the House of Lords, but without doubt one of the Hardest Working people in the place.
The EKTG International Ambassadors exchanged emails the day after Sue Masham died asking:
How do we make sure that this Woman is really remembered?
How does EKTG replace her wonderful support?