Thursday 19 September 2019

Baroness Trumpington is being remembered for this – but here’s what else she did

The 96-year-old contributed far more to the nation than simply ‘the greatest GIF of all time’.

By Stephen Jones, Press Association Social Media Editor

Tributes have been pouring in for former Conservative minister and Bletchley Park codebreaker Baroness Trumpington, who has died aged 96.

Perhaps predictably, many of the messages focused on a now-infamous moment in the House of Lords, which saw her flick a V-sign at Lord King over what she perceived to be comments about her age (in fact, as the clip shows, it was probably all a misunderstanding).

The moment, which went viral back in 2011, has been immortalised on Twitter ever since, and many were quick to reference it when news of her death broke.

However, as many pointed out, Lady Trumpington’s contribution to British life went far beyond a simple lapse in parliamentary etiquette.

She was a land girl in the Second World War

Born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris on October 23 1922, Lady Trumpington was 17 when the Second World War broke out, at which point she was assigned to work the land on a farm belonging to David Lloyd George.

Describing the period, she said: “I hated being a land girl. There were only old men there. The young men had joined up. And it was all apples – no animals.”

She helped Britain defeat the Nazis

Lady Trumpington managed to escape farming for the more exciting world of codebreaking, making use of her German language skills to help interpret secret messages sent by the Nazis.

Speaking about her time cracking German naval signals, she said: “We never, ever talked about our work.

“When our boyfriends asked us what we did, we had a pact … we said we were the girls who decided who got the medals.”

She served in numerous important jobs

Lady Trumpington never reached Cabinet level, but was a vocal figure in the Tory government, with roles in the agriculture and social security as well as the position of Baroness-in-waiting to the Queen.

On top of that, she served in many other roles, including as UK representative to the United Nations Status of Women Commission and, briefly, the mayor of Cambridge.

She wasn’t averse to upsetting people

If you hadn’t guessed from her memorable moment in the Lords chamber, Lady Trumpington didn’t shy away from controversy.

On one occasion she infuriated thousands of animal-lovers who sent her letters of abuse after she suggested that Falklands sheep should be used as sacrificial mine detectors.

“My point was that sheep could be put out of their misery and eaten, whereas men could not,” she said.

She had some excellent stories

It should come as little surprise that, with so many years of experience, Lady Trumpington could spin a yarn. Here’s one, detailed at the start of her autobiography.

PA Media

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