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Last Word
Listen to the latest editionFriday   16:00-16:30
Sunday 20:30-21:00 (rpt)

Radio 4's weekly obituaries programme
We welcome your comments and suggestions contact us
This week
Friday 20th February 2009
(Rpt) Sunday 22nd February 2009
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Sir Bernard Ashley, Dr Willem Kolff, Susan Hibbert, Edward Upward and Harry Hammond.
Sir Bernard Ashley
Businessman who has died aged 82

Sir Bernard Ashley worked with his wife Laura to build up the fashion and furnishings company that bore her name. Bernard met Laura when she was seventeen and the couple married in 1949. They set up their company in the 1950s, famously working at first from their kitchen table.

Matthew Bannister talks to Laura Ashley’s biographer Anne Sebba and to Bernard and Laura’s daughter, Jane Ashley.

Sir Bernard Ashley was born August 11 1926 and died February 14 2009.
Dr Willem Kolff
Inventor of the kidney dialysis machine who has died aged 97

Dr Kolff – known to his friends as “Pim” - was the Dutch scientist regarded as the father of artificial organs. He will best be remembered as the inventor of the world’s first successful kidney dialysis machine. Willem Kolff was the son of a doctor who ran a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers. He qualified in 1938 and began his pioneering work in Nazi-occupied Holland. He later moved to the USA where he helped to develop an artificial heart.

Matthew Bannister talks to Willem Kolff’s biographer Paul Heiney and to colleague Professor Joseph Andrade.

Dr Willem Kolff was born February 14 1911 and died February 11 2009.
Susan Hibbert
ATS Staff Sergeant who typed the German surrender in May 1945 who has died aged 84

On 6th May 1945, just two weeks before her twenty first birthday, ATS Staff Sergeant Susan Hibbert was stationed in North Eastern France at the temporary headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Alongside French, German and Russian clerks, Susan was given the arduous task of typing the English version of the German surrender document.

Susan Hibbert was born May 21 1924 and died February 2 2009.

Edward Upward
Writer who has died aged 105

Edward Upward was the last surviving link to a golden literary world of the 1930s, a friend of Christopher Isherwood, Stephen Spender and W.H Auden. Although the others achieved far greater fame and recognition, they always expressed their respect and admiration for Upward. His left-wing politics underpinned his best known work “The Spiral Ascent”– a trilogy of novels dealing with middle class involvement in the British Communist Party, which was based on his own experiences.

Matthew Bannister talks to writers Peter Parker and Dame Margaret Drabble and the film director Ken Loach.

Edward Upward was born September 9 1903 and died February 13 2009.

Harry Hammond
Photographer who has died aged 88

From Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra to the Beatles and Cliff Richard, Harry Hammond captured iconic images that helped to define the stars of the 1950s and 60s. He was born in the East End of London, left school at fourteen and took up an apprenticeship in advertising and fashion photography. In 1952, he began an association with the New Musical Express, which went on to embrace the arrival of rock and roll.

Matthew Bannister talks to writer Alwyn W. Turner.

Harry Hammond was born July 18 1920 and died February 4 2009.
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