Cyril Claydon: 'A dedicated campaigner and trade unionist'

A former local news reporter who also campaigned all his life for peace and social justice has died in Eastbourne District General Hospital at the age of 90.

Cyril Claydon worked as a journalist at the South East London Mercury, the Eltham and Kentish Times and at the Lewes office of the Brighton Argus.

Born in Essex, son of a railway clerk and a teacher, Cyril developed an interest in politics from an early age.

Like many at the time, he was disturbed by the rise of fascism in Europe and the terrible conditions of the city slums and rising unemployment at home.

But Cyril did not believe that Socialism in the UK could or should be achieved by violence. He favoured working through democratic processes and the ballot box.

His studious nature got him first a high school scholarship and then a scholarship to Cambridge’s Magdalene College to read modern languages. He met his wife Stella, also on a scholarship at Cambridge.

Cyril became branch secretary for the Communist Party student branch and later General Secretary of the Young Communist League.

He became a journalist for the Daily Worker and subsequently moved to local journalism.

He was Father of the Chapel – National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Union branch – at the Eltham Times and was made an NUJ life member.

Stella and Cyril lived with their two children in Streatham in South London, later moving to Bromley in Kent.

Shortly before Cyril’s retirement they moved to Lewes and some years later to a sheltered flat in Ringmer.

Less than a year ago, on 20 April, they moved to an assisted living flat in Uckfield.

Cyril’s wife Stella, who survives her husband and is also 90, became Principal Lecturer and Head of English at the Polytechnic of North London Teacher Training Department and subsequently founded Lewes U3A – University of the Third Age – which provides learning and a variety of activities for older people.

‘Cyril was a dedicated campaigner and trade unionist all his life, but never strident,’said Stella.

‘He would be happy – and interested – to discuss his ideas with people of all persuasions. He also had a sense of humour, which he retained to the very end.”

Cyril died peacefully on 2 March.

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