TRIBUTE TO SPEAKER WEATHERILL – 10 May 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: As a member of the 1997 intake, I can offer only the tiniest cameo from my knowledge of Lord Weatherill because I did not meet him until I attended a private dinner in 2003. In the course of the conversation, I happened to mention that my father, who was then only 90, had been a tailor for 71 years and recently had, sadly, had to go into residential care in the evening of his life. Lord Weatherill immediately insisted that I should give him not only my father’s name but that of the residential home and the address. He said:

“I’m going to write to him as one tailor to another.”

That is precisely what he did. When, from time to time in the years that followed, I bumped into him in the Corridors of the House, he unfailingly inquired after the welfare of Sam Lewis, my father. If you judge the largeness of a person’s character by the thoughtfulness of his acts of kindness, I will always remember Lord Weatherill for that act of wonderful kindness, if nothing else.

* * *

What Lord Weatherill wrote on his pictorial card:

“20 October ’03

“Dear Sam Lewis,

“I had the pleasure of meeting your son Julian at a Lunch in the House of Commons today of HMS Speaker – I was Speaker in 1983–92 and I am now their Patron! In course of conversation I was pleased to hear that – like me and my father and his father and grandfather – you are a tailor! My father founded the family business in 1912 after he had participated in a strike to draw attention to sweatshop conditions in London workrooms – so he had to set up on his own account!

“Best wishes,

“Bernard Weatherill.

“[Postscript:] This poster [overleaf, showing smartly dressed attendees at a hunt meet] was used by my father in 1934 – I have just obtained the original!”