Anne Seller, my friend and friend of so many across the Canterbury district and beyond was a highly respected and loved by all who knew her and by all those whose lives she touched in many walks of life. Whether as a philosophy lecturer, a school governor, long time Labour Party member, former Lady Mayoress, fellow church member, artist or a peace activist, Anne was known as a kind, thoughtful, listening person. Underlying her gentle mild tempered personality there was a deep inner strength and conviction in all that she worked for and participated in. A teacher friend told me that Anne was the best speaker she ever invited to talk to and with her 6th form students. Gifted in drawing people out of their shyness or reluctance to participate in discussion, Anne had exemplary personal communications skills. Her smile, her sense of humour and warm generosity of nature was able to reach out to even the most withdrawn individuals. She was a 101% giving person deeply committed to any project she believed in.
Others are more qualified than I to talk of Anne’s academic career, her leading role relating to women in philosophy, her art and church work. I recall other parts of her full life in which I was proud to be her friend for 39 years. I first met Anne in the Peace Movement in the early 80s when CND membership was flourishing. We both helped to found the Canterbury Christian Peace movement along with others including the then Dean of Canterbury. Anne helped to organise ‘affinity groups’ of activists who would engage in peaceful non-violent direct action (NVDA) which our women members employed to support each other when participating in peaceful protest at nuclear weapon sites. She was a frequent visitor to the Greenham Common Women’s peace Camp where, on one occasion, she was among those of us arrested for cutting the wire of the perimeter fence. I recall it said that she also broke though the fence while in a mini-bus. While she was a gentle, unfailingly courteous person, Anne was also a strong woman passionate and resolved in her beliefs.
In 2001, Anne was the Lady Mayoress to Lord Mayor Fred Whitemore, also a long term member of the Labour Party and Labour councillor. They were determined to bring the Civic Team closer to ‘ordinary’ people ensuring that they visited and supported small community groups and individuals working in the community. During this time I remember her being invited to undertake quite a tough assault course at Canterbury barracks. She did not hesitate to join in and did so with gusto.
I, my family and countless others, mourn Anne’s loss but will remember her with affection for her friendship and all the memories we shared together.
Julia Seath November 20