The independent London newspaper

Ros fought for rights for divorced women

Lifelong campaigner for equality took her case to parliament

09 March, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Rosemary Tankard in her younger days

ROSEMARY Tankard, a lifelong campaigner for equality who helped tenants to run their estates, has died aged 83.

Better known simply as “Ros”, Ms Tankard helped form the Hornsey Lane Estate Management Board.

“Making the estate tenant managed was inspired and eventually run by a strong community of women including my mum,” said her daughter, Jane Tankard.

She had, in retirement, also worked for the Islington Pensioners Forum and was chairwoman of the Companions Club in north London, which organised events and activities for the elderly.

As a child Ms Tankard was evacuated from the capital to South Wales but she fell ill and returned to live with her family.

“My mum said she loved London so much she had the word written through her like Brighton rock,” said Jane.

Ms Tankard divorced Jane’s father in 1966 and found herself in a battle to find a new home and get a mortgage. At a time when the law was not on the side of women, she campaigned for equal rights for divorced women and spent time putting together casework to take to parliament.

Rosemary ‘Ros’ Tankard

Apart from a brief stint in south London, Ms Tankard spent her life in Islington. As a child she would visit the music hall on Islington Green – now a Waterstones bookshop – every Friday and Saturday night. And when she wasn’t shopping, visiting art galleries or watching Cary Grant movies, she could be found giving tour guides of London which finished at St Paul’s Cathedral – “her favourite building in the whole world,” according to Jane.

Her main profession and trade was as a secretary, and she worked for an engineering company in Archway in the 1970s. “Mum was never scared of class or power,” said Jane. “She didn’t care who they were, she would treat them the same as the bus driver.”

She added: “She was an amazing person. When my grandmother developed dementia, mum looked after her continuously. Despite holding down a full-time job, she would go to the care home to look after her every day. She campaigned for better care for the people there as it wasn’t always good. She did the uptmost to help the people that were there. She was always fighting for a better environment. She wanted a better life for everyone.”

As well as Jane, Ms Tankard leaves grandchildren Sadie, Phoebe and Zoe.


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