Ly­dia Cal­len­der

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - COLIN CAL­LEN­DER


LY­DIA CAL­LEN­DER was one of a dy­ing breed — part of that first gen­er­a­tion of Bri­tish Jews whose fam­i­lies came to Bri­tain at the end of the 19th cen­tury to es­cape per­se­cu­tion in East­ern Europe.

Ly­dia’s life was forged by the hor­rors of the Sec­ond World War and the Holo­caust. She at­tended James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dul­wich but, as bombs fell on Lon­don dur­ing the Blitz, she was evac­u­ated with her school to the English coun­try­side, sep­a­rated from her par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers to live with strangers. It was her wartime ex­pe­ri­ences that shaped her sense of self and of Jewish­ness.

Ly­dia was a de­voted Jew and fer­vent sup­porter of the newly es­tab­lish Jewish state of Is­rael. Af­ter the war, she be­came one of the Bri­tish founders of Magen David Adom, the med­i­cal emer­gency and am­bu­lance ser­vice that serves all Is­raelis re­gard­less of race, creed or eth­nic af­fil­i­a­tion.The char­ity was Ly­dia’s life­long pas­sion. She played

Ly­dia Cal­len­der: a strong and de­ter­mined woman and role model a key role in set­ting up the fundrais­ing in­fra­struc­ture for MDA in Eng­land. In recog­ni­tion of her many years of chari- ta­ble work there is a blood do­na­tion fa­cil­ity in Kiryat Sh­mona in north­ern Is­rael ded­i­cated in her name.

Ly­dia was a woman who knew what she wanted in life and was fear­less in pur­su­ing it. She ran her com­pany, Script Break­down Ser­vices, for 40 years with for­mi­da­ble de­ter­mi­na­tion build­ing it into a suc­cess­ful busi­ness that pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to tal­ent agents about plays, tele­vi­sion and films that were be­ing cast in Lon­don.

Ly­dia met her hus­band Martin Cal­len­der af­ter the war at a Fabian So­ci­ety week­end re­treat at Lox­wood Hall House in Sus­sex in March 1948. Af­ter a whirl­wind ro­mance, Martin pro­posed to Ly­dia on June 8 on Hamp­stead Heath un­der the moon­light and they mar­ried on Septem­ber 14 that year.

Martin, who grew up in Hack­ney, Lon­don, grad­u­ated from the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and, af­ter vol­un­teer­ing for ac­tive ser­vice in 1941, rose to the rank of Lieu­tenant-Colonel in the Bri­tish In­dian Army. Af­ter the war, he joined the 43 Group fight­ing Oswald Mosley’s black­shirts and reg­u­larly spoke out against the Bri­tish fas­cist move­ment at Speak­ers Cor­ner.

Af­ter Martin died, Ly­dia be­came the ma­tri­arch of the Cal­len­der fam­ily and her home at Sid­mouth Road in North- West Lon­don, where she had lived for 60 years, be­came both her sanc­tu­ary and gath­er­ing point for fam­ily mem­bers from far and wide. Her love of mu­sic,her­gar­den,an­dallth­ingsJewish, in­formed ev­ery cor­ner of her home.

As the fam­ily ma­tri­arch, Ly­dia, the witty, strong and de­ter­mined woman, be­came a role model for the next gen­er­a­tion of Cal­len­ders — her grand­chil­dren and nieces and neph­ews in Is­rael, Canada and Amer­ica. She adored them and they in turn adored her.

And, for that next gen­er­a­tion, Ly­dia was and al­ways will re­main the link be­tween the old coun­try and the new, be­tween their Jewish her­itage and their life to­day in a mod­ern mul­ti­cul­tural world. And so she lives on in Cal­len­der fam­ily mem­ory and will be re­mem­bered with a smile, with love, re­spect, and great ad­mi­ra­tion. She is sur­vived by her son Colin and his wife El­iz­a­beth, and her grand­chil­dren in New York — Ian, Caro­line and Char­lotte — her daugh­ter Claire and her part­ner An­nette, and her son Nee­man and his daugh­ters Rivka, Sarah, Chava and Meira in Is­rael and sis­ter Wendy.

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