Winifred (Freddie) Mary (n’e Lambert) Vickers was born on September 4th 1918 in Liverpool, the youngest of four children. Her father was a customs official and her mother a schoolteacher. Freddie won scholarships to Merchant Taylor’s school for girls in Crosby and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read geography.
There, she joined the Communist Party and became Secretary of the united front University Labour Federation, being a life-long friend of Arnold Kettle from these days. She married James Vickers, later to become a civil service union activist in 1940. In July 1942, she was trapped by burning felled house timbers during a bombing raid on Cambridge. Her injuries necessitated amputation of both her legs below the knees and her subsequent courage in facing the trauma was widely celebrated in the Communist Party press.
After the war, she trained as a social worker at the LSE and then became a psychiatric social worker, first in Stoke-on-Trent and then at Paddinton and Hammersmith hospitals. Freddie became a lecturer in social work at Chiswick Polytechnic. She left the Communist Party over Hungary but never broke with her Party friends. Freddie Vickers died on March 23rd 2006, aged 87.
Guardian 6th April 2006