Dom Alberic Stacpoole celebrates a Red Cross Dynasty
ON 8 JANUARY this year, Patrick. Pery the 6th Earl of Limerick died. He was 72. A city trader, he became the first Chancellor of London Metropolitan University and is succeeded in the title by his son, a director of Deutsche Bank.
The late earl's death closes a remarkable chapter in the history of one of the world's most enduring charities. Both his mother Angela and his late wife Sylvia were devoted to the Red Cross and the name Countess of Limerick in Red Cross/Red Crescent history reaches back to the Second World War, largely because from the time that the Lancasters and Fortresses had ceased their mass destruction over Germany, Austria. Poland and Czechoslovakia most of Europe needed to be recivilised and rebuilt.
Patrick Pery and Sylvia Lush married in 1961. Both graduated in PPE from Oxford; they shared their honeymoon climbing Corsica's highest hill and its anniversary climbing a 20,000 feet Nepal mountain and in the winter they shared serious skiing.
The new Countess followed the family tradition by giving much of her administrative energy to the British Red Cross Society. For four years from 1962 she worked at the National Headquarters. For a further six years she was president of the Kensington and Chelsea Division. For thirteen years from 1972 she was the London vice-president and then in 1985 she became for a decade (Emeritus thereafter) chairman of the British Red Cross Society (BRCS). For four years from 1993 she was vice-president of the International federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies. That amounted to 35 years of Red Cross Work. In 1991 she was appointed CBE; in 1993 her husband being appointed KBE.
In 1992, she and her family got Donald Lindsay to write a biography of Countess Angela Limerick, Lord Limerick's mother, A Form of Gratitude. The most amazing aspect of Edmund (5th earl) and Countess Angela Limerick's life is that in one marriage there were two Knights Grand Cross
and two Companions of Honour. During 1942 54 Lady Limerick was advanced from CBE to DBE to OBE for her commitment to Red Cross works. She had served in the Great War with the Voluntary Aid Detachment at home and overseas. She served in the Second World War as deputy chairman of war organisa tions of BRCS and the Order of St John, while doing much else for the Star and Garter homes for which she was made a Dame of St John of Jerusalem. It was during the 1950s that her best work flowed abroad into all parts of Europe essentially for the Red Cross elements. She was working alongside people such as Mia Woodruff who also organised the Catholic Committee for Relief Abroad.
Angela Limerick worked closely with one of the most successful BRCS workers . Evelyn Bark whose obituary Sylvia Limerick wrote in 1993. At the end of her career in the
Red Cross, Evelyn Bark wrote No Time to Kill which might well have been called No Time to Marry so devoted was she to those in distress.
After the War she became the first commissioner for NW Europe, then Director of Red Cross International Relief. She spoke several languages and travelled far and wide for her work. She took Lady Limerick and Mia Woodruff to Belsen and in her book described how the prisoners freed from the Nazi concentration camps had risen up from hospital beds and savagely attacked the German nurses with knives and forks. Her great gift to Europe was the BRCS. then the International Red Cross tracing Agency for reuniting families and reconnecting missing people to what was left of their fami lies. For instance she found on entering Belsen in 1945 some 60,000 dead and dying, the Nazis having deliberately destroyed all records of identification.
Dealing with that became a main Red Cross task.
During 1954-56 Evelyn Bark accompanied Lady Limerick on several tours; notably one across the Iron Curtain to the Soviet Union, then Poland and on to China; and another to Romania, Hungary and then Bulgaria to strengthen Red Cross relations beyond politic al-idealogical boundaries and to do the work needed for further tracing.
So when in 1956 Hungary was invaded by the Soviets, both women were involved in resultant needs for welfare and placing refugees, especially to Austria. Both women were eventually granted Austria's Golden Insignia of Honour for Merit.
Evelyn Park held Red Cross awards from ten countries. Lady Limerick was given even more from the various Red Cross movements, these during the decade of the 50s: Medaille de Vermeil ( French 1945); Silver Medal ( USA 1946); Gold Medal (Belgium 1946): First Class Medal (Germany, 1954): Gold Medal of Merit Sweden 1957); Gold Medal ( Greece 1959); Red Crescent Medal (Turkey, 1959). There were more honours from the Dominions, the Middle East and even the Philippines.
It was a rich Life of serving the desperate, distressed and drowning. It went on beyond the severe needs of others: her motto might have been, as to the chaos following a world war. "Only Reconnect".
After 1957 Angela Limerick served for a decade and a half as vice chairman of the league of Red Cross societies until she was 76.
She died respected by many in 1981. She had been the fast non-royal BRCS Vice-President dedicating 60 years of her life to Red Cross and Crescent.