Baroness Brenda Dean, a former trustee of the Thomson Foundation and a prominent figure in the history of the British newspaper industry, has died suddenly at the age of 74.
Her death was announced in Britain’s upper house of parliament, The House of Lords, by the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, who is patron of the foundation.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair described her as “a huge figure in the Labour and trade union movement” who through the strength of her convictions, and commitment to reform, helped usher in significant changes, including in higher education.
Mr Blair added: “She blazed a trail for women, becoming the first female general secretary of a major union. I have incredibly fond memories of Brenda. She was a valued friend and adviser.”
A magnificent stalwart of the foundation over many years.
Baroness Dean was a lifelong trade unionist who rose to prominence in Britain during the 1980s as president, and then general secretary, of the print workers’ union, SOGAT. The role brought her face to face with Rupert Murdoch during long-running union protests over his introduction of new working practices at his British newspapers.
She was elevated to the peerage in 1993, taking a seat on the Labour benches, and served as a trustee of the foundation from 2008 to 2016.
Viscount Chandos, chairman of the Thomson Foundation, described her as “a magnificent stalwart of the foundation over many years.”
He added: “She was a great supporter of a strong and diverse media who used her immense energy to support the foundation’s aims and its staff.
“The board of trustees benefited greatly from her industry insights, candour, and irrepressible style. She will be sorely missed.”
About: Nigel has overall responsibility for the delivery of the foundation’s programmes and budgets, as well as advising its board of trustees on strategy. His background is in the news industry, both as a journalist and as a manager of international news agencies.