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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
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This week
Friday 25th July 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 27th July
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Lord Stokes, Monica Dickinson, Hugh Lloyd and Lyall Watson.
Lord Stokes
Head of British Leyland who has died aged 94.

Sir Donald Stokes, later Lord Stokes was in charge of car manufacturer British Leyland from 1968 to 1975. He was one of the country’s leading industrialists, a regular media performer, and a staunch defender of the motor industry.

Donald Stokes was born in Plymouth, the only son of the city’s traffic manager. He became an engineering apprentice at Leyland Motors in Lancashire. After rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the war, Stokes returned to lead a successful international sales drive for Leyland. Promoted to Managing Director, Donald Stokes became a favourite of the Labour government under Harold Wilson and was knighted for his services to exports. When the government wanted to save the British-owned car industry from the threat of takeover by American companies, Sir Donald was encouraged to take charge of a merger between his own Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings which made Austin and Morris cars.

Matthew Bannister talks to three people who have different perspectives on Lord Stokes’ career. The MP Geoffrey Robinson who worked alongside Lord Stokes in the early 1970s, the former BBC industrial affairs correspondent Nicholas Jones who covered the fortunes of British Leyland and Tony Benn who was Minister of Technology and later Industry in the Labour Governments at the time.

Donald Gresham Stokes was born March 22nd 1914. He died July 21st 2008.
Monica Dickinson
Champion horsewoman and highly successful trainer who has died aged 83

Monica Dickinson was a legendary figure in the world of horseracing. She was a champion horsewoman and highly successful trainer. She was also part of a family team, with her husband Tony and her son Michael, which saddled more than a thousand winners.

Monica Birtwhistle was born in 1924, the daughter of a Lancashire cotton manufacturer who loved hunting. She grew up with ponies and rode to hounds from an early age. She became a successful show jumper and also rode at point-to-point meetings, where she met her future husband Tony Dickinson. Together Tony and Monica Dickinson built a successful horse dealing business with a livery yard at Gisburn in Yorkshire. In 1979, they moved into training at Harewood and within a year, Tony was champion trainer. Their son Michael was even more successful. But when he went off to work for Robert Sangster, Monica took over the training licence in 1984.

Matthew Bannister talks to the commentator Sir Peter O’Sullivan, champion jockey John Francome and to Michael Dickinson.
Dorothy Cynthia Monica Birtwhistle was born September 19th 1924. She died July 15th 2008.
Hugh Lloyd
Comedy actor who has died aged 85.

Hugh Lloyd was always wearing a flat cap and a muffler and a drab nondescript overcoat, possibly carrying a shopping bag, and gazing up sadly at his tormentors with a look which seemed to show the cares of the world resting on his shoulders.His pedantic hangdog seriousness punctured the pomposity of overbearing bullies like Terry Scott and Tony Hancock.

Hugh Lloyd was born in Chester and took up acting at school. During the war he entertained the troops in ENSA before teaming up in a comedy act with Terry Scott. This eventually led to the long running seventies TV series “Hugh and I” in which they played two lodgers. Lloyd was a regular in pantomime and a respected character actor, but he first came to the attention of the wider public in the classic Hancock’s Half Hour, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
Hugh Lewis Lloyd was born April 22nd 1923. He died July 14th 2008.
Lyall Watson
Scientist and author who has died aged 69

Lyall Watson had a brilliant if eclectic mind. He was an adventurer, a scientist, a broadcaster and author of many books – among them Supernature  which explored science and the paranormal and was a runaway best seller in the 1970s. Lyall Watson described himself as a “scientific nomad”. He led expeditions to Antarctica and lived variously in South Africa, America, the UK and Ireland.

His niece, the writer Katherine Lyall Watson pays tribute to her much-loved uncle. 
Malcolm Lyall-Watson was born April 12th 1939. He died June 25th 2008.
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