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  • Writer's pictureAlpesh Patel

Remembering Baroness Flather: A Fearless Voice and a Life Rich with Advocacy and Friendship

What a General in the Army Taught me About Leadership My dear Baroness Flather who sadly passed away this week. She brought me on to the Board of the Commonwealth Memorial Gates, of which she was passionate. "Those commonwealth soldiers who gave so much for the war effort, must be commemorated. Those brave boys. Especially the African ones. Where are their memorials?" she would say.


And she got HM Queen to open them! She could do that. She could do anything. The Gates stand outside Buckingham Palace on Constitution Hill by Hyde Park Corner. The names of Victoria Cross winners etched onto the ceiling. Margaret Thatcher would come to the annual ceremony, as did John Major. They all respected the Baroness.





Thanks to her, I was able to see the State Opening of Parliament, and my parents invited to the Trouping of the Colour.


But she reminded me the power of a fearless voice. I recall a lunch she invited me to with Priti Patel, before she became Home Sec. As the three of us sat there, well, let's just say the Baroness had views and she expressed them forthrightly.


We went to a friend's wedding together in Verona and she had spark, wit and fire. I was her chaperone! I must have had half a dozen dinner and theater dates with her. And not just the posh nosh - I would take her to Subway! And she loved it!


And she could even make me blush! Laughter. Not just politics. She could outdo Trump with nick-names for peers and politicians. She'd end up falling out with a few of my friends, which then made it awkward for me. Thanks for that BF! "Well who needs them anyway, you've got me, aren't I enough" am sure would be her response!




But she could be hurt. It always pained her that upon successfully nominating Lord Bagri to a peerage, she was never once invited to their home thereafter. I would try to explain, as they were friends of mine, there must be some misunderstanding. But she saw the world in black and white as strong minded people who get things done, often do, and that can cost friendships. Many.


And she could flirt! That was also power. As we would walk through the House of Lords, bumping into her fellow peers, in all the years, I never saw one of the dare refuse any impromptu request she would make of them.


She did predict, "you will find a nice pretty young girl, get married, and forget all about going out with me". Sadly, it is true. A million things got in the way.


On religion, she would tell me she doesn't believe in God, and I would try to provoke her by saying, "well He sure believes in you".


Bless you. Whatever there is - may you have Nirvana. "Well, I bloody deserve it, I've done a lot you know" I can hear her saying.


Alpesh Patel OBE


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