An Appreciation by two members of the Executive Committee of Christians on Ageing following the death of Baroness Greengross
My memory is of Sally Greengross ably chairing the launch in London during 1998 of the resources produced jointly by Methodist Homes(MHA) and Christian Council on Aging (CCOA) for what became our Halley Stewart Project.. I was the Pastoral Director of MHA at the time and applied for grant-aid from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust whose declared purposes are to facilitate the development of people’s minds. bodies and spirits. There were two strands in our project: to provide suitable resources for churches to address the needs of older people, and similarly to provide appropriate resources for the training of Christian ministers. Several working groups were sat up coordinated by Mannes Tidmarsh of CCOA and myself. The launch event promoted a series of booklets and other resources and included addresses by eminent speakers such as Gerrard Hughes, author of ‘God of Surprises’, and Bruce Kent of CND who has only recently died. The approach was made to Sally Greengross as the person of greatest national standing in the field. She willingly agreed and her chairmanship was immaculate.
Along with thousands of others I knew her as plain Sally Greengross, a pioneer in the development of the modern voluntary sector and a tireless campaigner and advocate for older people. Many tributes have already been paid to her work and in her memory – there will be many more, and rightly so. I worked with Sally from the early 1980s in an organisation she helped to become the foremost voice of older people. She did this alongside the legendary and quixotic national Director of Age Concern England, David Hobman, eventually succeeding him in that role allowing her to use her particular skills of policy development to mesh with a quiet encouragement of vital practical services by local Age Concern organisations. I worked for and with her for nearly twenty years. I admired her ability to get the most out of people at every level – local and central government, funders, service providers and volunteers. I remember one week when she spoke at an Age Concern meeting in Yorkshire, many in the audience bereft of jobs and community after the closure of the pits; in the same week I was present at a fund-raising event hosted by Kenneth Clark at number 11 Downing Street – he said to these rich people: “I like Sally because she comes to me with solutions”. I found her greatest qualities, in addition to the obvious intelligence and competence, to be kindness and tolerance, shown to all who came in contact with her. After her retirement from Age Concern she continued to develop ideas and practical solutions through her involvement with the International Longevity Centre and her membership of the House of Lords. Christians on Ageing owes Sally a particular debt because she was instrumental in giving an Age Concern grant and the expertise of a senior staff member to help in the establishment of our organisation as the Christian Council on Ageing in 1982. To Sally’s family and friends we offer our condolences and gratitude.