Martin Page Remembers Betty Simmerson
Lovers of freedom everywhere and supporters of the struggle to restore Britain`s national independence and sovereignty will be saddened to learn of Betty Simmerson`s death ( on 21st October at the age of 89 ), and yet inspired to learn, or learn more, about her life. Coming from a modest background in Britain, she rose to become one of the UK`s staunchest and most dedicated opponents of Britain`s membership of the EEC/EC/EU, and devoted at least 55 years of her long life to the cause, to help alert the British people to the dangers of such membership and to serve and save the country she loved. Throughout this lifelong campaign she acted tirelessly and selflessly, unstintingly and modestly, day after day and with steely determination, participating in countless demonstrations many of which she helped to organise or support from her own limited financial resources, without a thought for material reward, popular acclaim or personal aggrandisement.
Arguably her patriotic commitment stemmed from her nursing service during the Second World War. When she once told me that her opposition to Britain`s absorption in a European superstate dated back to 1958, I felt mildly ashamed that, although I was some 16 years younger than Betty, mine had only dated from about 1971! She had gone on to support Christopher Frere-Smith`s Keep Britain Out campaign, notably active during the 1970s, and both of them were arrested ( with other British anti-Marketeers ) and imprisoned in Brussels on 22 January 1972, when Heath signed the Treaty of Accession there. ( I remember Frere-Smith as a very fine and eloquent public speaker.)
In 1976 she married Reg Simmerson, an experienced chartered accountant and lecturer, whom she had met as a soul-mate campaigner soon after Britain`s 1973 entry to the EEC; and the two of them comprised a formidable team, travelling together throughout much of Britain to disseminate the anti-EU message, often in relation to Reg contesting a succession of elections as an anti-Market candidate. They became founding members of UKIP, which they joined on its formation in 1993; and in addition to supporting the Swinton Circle and a specific group of women against the Common Market (as it then was ), Betty, and almost invariably Reg as well until his death in 1998, became involved to a greater or lesser extent with a number of anti-EU or Euro-sceptic organisations such as the original Anti-Common Market League and the Campaign for an Independent Britain. Betty and Reg bore the heat and burden of the day when they quite often seemed virtually alone in the wilderness, but Betty only left us after the BREXIT victory on 23 June 2016. May she now rest in peace.
Her funeral will be held in the Chapel attached to Chichester Cemetery, Church Road, Chichester, at 12 noon on Friday, 11th November 2016. All friends and admirers of hers are welcome to attend.
Martin Page ( who first met Betty in the 1970s ).