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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 4 September 2008

Activist Hilda Forman
Communist campaigner who never lost touch

CAMPAIGNER Hilda Forman, 88, who died on August 12 will be remembered for her tenacity, empathy and characteristic dignity.
Her husband of longer than 60 years, Stanley Forman, who owned the socialist documentaries distributors, Plato Films, met his match when both were in the Young Communist League.
The couple married in 1946. A year later when he returned from active service, they moved into St George’s Avenue in Tufnell Park.
The middle child of Jewish Russian/Polish migrants, her impoverished upbringing worsened when her father, a tailor’s machinist, died when she was 10.
Her mother took on tailoring jobs, taking home a measly 15 shillings a week. Any spare pennies Mrs Davies could find she put towards sending her children to the theatre, cinema and the music halls – where Hilda saw the greats of the time from Tito Gobi to Louis Armstrong – beginning her life-long passion for the arts.
Hilda was granted a scholarship to Thoresby Girls’ School where she was described by tutors as a “top scholar” But at 14 years old, she left to find work in sales and administration.
Later, as a book-keeper for a clothing manufacturer in 1939 she was sacked for her involvement in a strike.
While managing contracts for the Ministry of Supply she took great delight when the same company approached her to tender for a contract to produce army uniforms.
Her experience of politics began as a teenager when her mother, Rachel, allowed their home in Leeds to be used as a base for a local Communist candidate seeking election.
A member of the Left Book Club, The Communist Party and the World Federation of Democratic Youth, she established and became the first executive secretary of BRIDGE (the Britain-German Democratic Republic Information Exchange), crucially just a few months before the Berlin Wall was erected.
Her son, David Forman, 58, a professor at Leeds University said: “While she remained committed to the group’s aims, she was not one of those kind of Communists whose lives became so entwined with ‘The Party’ that they lost their connection with the world outside. She was under no illusions about the harm inflicted to those ideals by those in power in the Soviet Union and its eastern European neighbours.”
Her working and political life met for the first time when she gained a position in Central Books, the Communist Party’s book and periodical outlet.
As senior research manager at Bedford College, she explored the status and organisation of general practice within the NHS between 1970 and 1974.
But it was as a manager at the James Wigg Practice in St Pancras Way, where she worked from 1974 until her retirement in 1985, that she was truly in her element. She won the trust and admiration of all there. Her son said: “It seems fitting that her last and longest job was the one in which she found her métier.”
In retirement, Hilda spent time watching plays at her favourite theatres, The Almeida in Islington and the National Theatre on the South Bank, and visiting The National Portrait Gallery.
In her last year, Hilda moved back to Yorkshire to be nearer her son who, with his wife Joan cared for her in her last months.
Hilda Forman is survived by her husband, Stanley, son David, four grandchildren Anna, Danny, Emma and Roslyn and five great-grandchildren Stanley, Joe, Harry, Alys and Sadie.

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