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Campaigning for death with dignity

Newbury mother launches local group to change law

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth


01635 886637

Campaigning for death with dignity

A NEWBURY mother who is campaigning to allow terminally-ill people to control their own death is launching a new group in Newbury.

Christine Eeley described how she watched helplessly as her daughter Isobel Kennerley, aged 33, died from terminal brain cancer in May this year.

Mrs Eeley recalled how her daughter begged her for help as her health deteriorated in her last days. 

Mrs Eeley said: “It’s the lack of dignity that is so distressing.

“At the end she couldn’t move, eat or speak, but still had mental capacity. She was in agony and I could do nothing.

“She wanted the choice to die. I would have borrowed the money to take her to Dignitas [the Swiss organisation that provides assisted suicide to the terminally ill], but it was difficult to judge the right time before she was too weak to travel.“  

Next month Mrs Eeley is opening a Newbury-based Dignity in Dying group, as the nearest one is currently in Reading.

The first meeting  will be held on November 4 in the Town Hall chamber, Newbury, between 11am and 1pm.  

This meeting will provide the opportunity for local people to hear more about the campaign, ask questions and brainstorm ideas for campaigning locally.

Lesley Close, a patron of Dignity in Dying, who accompanied her brother John to Dignitas in Switzerland in 2003 when he was dying of motor neurone disease, will be speaking at the meeting and sharing her story. 

Isobel Kennerley was a teaching assistant at St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, and also worked with autistic children.

She had a degree in educational practice and had ambitions to study for a masters degree specialising in autistic studies, but had to give up her dream as she was in so much pain. 

Mrs Kennerley was born with cerebral palsy, which affected her left side. 

She then developed a brain tumour, which was also on the left side and started to affect the right side – but her illness failed to dampen her spirits. 

Her mother said: “She was very, very strong – determined and braver than you can imagine.

“Her view was ‘I’m okay today. I can do this’.”

Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults with less than six months to live to have the option of a safe, legal assisted death.

There are currently more than 30 groups around the country, of which West Berkshire is one of the newest.

The largest ever poll on assisted dying found that 82 per cent of the public were in support of a change in the law.

If you would like to attend the first meeting, please email Mrs Eeley at or call 07748 114833.

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