It is with very great sadness that our campaign announces that Carol Brown, Save Lewisham Hospital Campaigner and friend to many of us, died on Sunday morning 11 September. We send our deepest sympathy to her husband Barry, her daughter Sally, her dad, brother David and her family. Carol was a passionate patient advocate for Lewisham Hospital from the beginning of the campaign – they had saved her life following a previous illness just before the campaign began – and she was a Steering Committee member from the beginning. She and Barry ‘starred’ in the film Carol and Barry’s bus journey in which we documented the long, difficult bus journey ordinary people in Lewisham would have to take to Woolwich, if Lewisham Hospital were to be closed. The film and their story was later featured in the Mirror. It’s very hard for us to believe that Carol is no longer with us, because although she had been seriously ill for the last year and a half, right up to a few days ago Carol was full of life, laughter, interest in the campaign, politics in the wider world, music, reading, her garden and many other things.
Rest in peace Carol with love from the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign
My wife, Carol Brown, who has died aged 55 of complications from her treatment for cancer, was for many years a social worker and more recently an NHScampaigner.
Her life changed in early 2012 when she was an emergency admission to Lewisham hospital in south-east London; she was suffering from sepsis caused by a perforated ulcer. This progressed to kidney failure and she spent two months in hospital, including a month in intensive care. Soon after she was discharged, threats to the hospital’s future were made public – plans to close A&E, and to cut intensive care and maternity services. Carol and I attended public meetings and became involved in the Save Lewisham hospital campaign.
Despite her limited mobility, Carol helped to distribute leaflets – delivering them in ice and snow on occasions – worked on street stalls, spoke at meetings and took part in the two large marches held to protest against the hospital’s closure. Carol was determined to complete these and I took a camping chair so she could have rests. She would tell people that Lewisham hospital had saved her life and that she would do everything she could to save it in return.
The campaign and local council challenged the government plans in the high court, where on 31 July 2013 they were declared unlawful, and Carol always said this was one of the happiest days of her life.
Carol was born in Shrewsbury, daughter of Colin, a BT engineer, and Joan, a shop assistant. She attended Priory girls’ school, studied history at Reading University and qualified as a social worker in Sheffield, where she and I met in 1985. She then worked in providing accommodation for homeless people and later as a social worker in the London boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark and Wandsworth.
While she was still recovering from her 2012 illness, she received an unrelated diagnosis of cancer in 2015. Despite this, she continued to be involved in campaigning for Lewisham hospital and often appeared in the media. Carol used her personal experiences to highlight issues affecting the NHS and, even though she had serious health problems, kept up the fight.
She loved reading, history and music (especially Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone – and particularly the 1960s civil rights songs). She maintained an interest in politics and current affairs, was a proud socialist and feminist and an avid listener to Radio 4 and the World Service. It was inevitable that we would play Sailing By at her funeral.
Carol and I married in 2012. She is survived by me and our daughter, Sally, and by her parents, her brother, David, and sister, Sandi.
Carol was originally from Shropshire and was buried there on a Shropshire hillside. This article appeared in the local paper: The same paper contains extensive reports on the local campaign to save the A&E.