My aunt, Mona Warren, who died aged 94, recently recalled how, when she was the only female lawyer in Cornwall in the early 1960s, those who addressed Cornwall Law Society meetings began: “Gentlemen and Miss Warren”.
After ill health prevented her from completing a chemistry degree at the University College of South West of England (now the University of Exeter) in the 1940s, she learned shorthand while working at Methodist Missionary Society of London before becoming a trainee in St Buryan, Cornwall, where she lived, then a solicitor in Penzance.
Mona suffered from severe epilepsy from early adulthood until late middle age. My parents had moved from Cornwall to Stevenage in 1957, and in 1973, when Mona was unable to live on her own, she came to live with us.
Despite adversity, Mona was active in many areas, volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau (now Citizens Advice) and the Samaritans, and became Labor Councilor for the Broadwater Ward in Stevenage in 1989 and Vice President of the Hertfordshire County Council in the 1990s. She was re-elected as a councilor for Broadwater in 1993 and retired in the 1997 election.
When I was a kid, Mona took me to a hearing where she was the defense attorney. Then I asked her how she could defend the culprits. His answer stuck with me: “It’s not for me to decide – their case must be heard.”
Justice was central to Mona’s vision – but social justice, not just narrow legalism. She testified to this in several ways: as a Methodist lay preacher in the 1960s, national director of the CND (1998-2000), and member of the executive committee of the Christian Socialist Movement in the 1990s.
Mona was born on the Isle of Man. His parents, Lily (née Radcliffe) and William Warren (known as Norman), were Methodist missionaries. They had to leave their home in China in 1927 as the country experienced increasing violence.
My mother, Mary, recalled the trip, recounting how, when their mother was pregnant with Mona, their father had hired a sampan, refusing a navy boat offered by the British consul, fearing it would make things worse. things.
An encounter with “bandits” at one point was resolved, although their luggage was lost. Learning from this episode may have contributed to Mona’s incredible ability in advocacy and negotiation.
Mona attended Trinity Hall in Southport, a boarding school for girls provided by the Methodist Church to avoid any disruption to their education. In the 1920s and 1930s Methodist ministers, like my grandfather, frequently had to move house.
After moving to Stevenage in the 70s, Mona stayed there, living with a close friend, until she moved back to Cornwall, Saltash, where my parents were then living, in 2003.
Mona is survived by her nephews, Rod and I, five great-nephews and two great-great-nieces.