• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Jenny Addison

Conservative activist;

Born: June 1, 1921; Died: September 27, 2012.

Jenny Addison, who has died aged 91, was one of the most effective and influential organisers of the Scottish Conservative Party.

She was the oldest of five daughters of Willie McBride, a grain merchant from Dreghorn, Ayrshire. She was educated at the local school and Kilmarnock Academy and after a secretarial course worked for a pottery firm and then, during the Second World War and the age of rationing, in the Ministry of Food's office in Ayr.

She gave up the prospect of a peacetime civil service career to pursue her growing interest in politics in the years when the Conservative Party was reviving from the shock of its severe defeat in the 1945 General Election.

She worked in the constituency office for Central Ayrshire and qualified as a professional party agent. It was a seat the Conservatives won against the odds in their peak year of 1955 and her contribution was widely recognised. She moved to more senior party roles in Cardiff and Manchester, where she became deputy area agent for North-West England.

In 1969 she was brought back to Scotland, after an act of internal party head-hunting, to strengthen the organisational side of the party's Central Office in Edinburgh. Although originally mainly concerned as deputy director of organisation with "women's work" and the handling of speakers, her own plain speaking, which went with energy and efficiency, soon gave her a much wider influence.

She was to retain a key role in the stimulation and organisation of party activity, centrally and locally, under a succession of various party chairmen and Central Office mandarins. Although she belonged to a generation and tradition in which it was still possible to talk without irony of party loyalty as "the Conservatives' secret weapon", her respect for party leaders and their policies never extended to undue deference.

In her role as deputy party director in Scotland she also displayed a special gift for encouraging volunteer workers, she never seemed remote from them, and was as skilful in exalting the humble as in handling the high-heid yins.

But her return to Scotland brought private happiness as well as professional success. In 1971 she married Bill Addison, who had been widowed while serving as Conservative regional agent in the Highlands and had moved to a Central Office post in Edinburgh. It was an unexpected match which proved a blessed union and partnership until Bill's death in 2005.

The couple gave continued support and election service to the Conservative Party after retirement to the Borders. They lived briefly in a woodland cottage on the Eildon estate before settling into a Melrose bungalow which on Sevens days became a hospitable home from home for a Conservative Rugby Fellowship extending even to supporters of Hawick, Kelso and the Edinburgh clubs.

Their other, and ultimately greatest commitment, was to faith and church. Two of her sisters married ministers and Mrs Addison became president of the Woman's Guild at Melrose Parish Church. She was made OBE in 1983.

She is survived by her sisters and their families.

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

126780