Hilary Embling obituary

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My mother, Hilary Embling, who has died aged 94, was a teacher, librarian, peace campaigner and leftwing activist.

Born in the town of Croydon to Margaret (nee Bingham) and Graham Down, a bank manager, Hilary was the youngest of five daughters. During the second world war she was a day girl at a private boarding school near Croydon and lived with her grandmother. The rest of the family had moved to Bognor Regis, West Sussex, but her father thought she would be safer away from the coast.

Always a critical thinker, Hilary broke away from her parents’ values – they were strongly against her radical views. She studied Russian at University College London (1949-53), and, during this period, met David Embling, an architect who worked in social housing, and they married in 1951.

The couple joined CND shortly after it was founded and would take me and my siblings on Aldermaston marches. Hilary also took part in many sit-down demonstrations against the Vietnam war.

Hilary, left, and a friend being arrested at a CND rally in the early 1960s

From 1953 to 1965, Hilary was a full-time mother of four children. Once we were all in school, she did a six-week infant induction teaching course, and, from 1966 to 1969, taught part-time in infant schools.

In 1971, Hilary qualified as a teacher librarian at UCL, before working part-time at the National Central Library to become a chartered librarian (1974). She then spent a year at Queens’ school, Bushey, in Hertfordshire, before joining the staff of Haverstock school in Camden, north London, in 1975, where she remained until she retired in 1988, aged 60.

The family lived in Hampstead from 1960 to 1988, and Hilary would jog across the heath to have a dip in the ladies’ pond before work, then stop off at her allotment on her way home after work. She became a Woodcraft Folk leader (1969-71) and would always offer to be on latrine duty at Woodcraft camps.

In the 1980s she volunteered at the CND office in Finsbury Park with Bruce Kent, and participated in demonstrations at Greenham Common. She was arrested a few times for her peace activism, and once refused to pay the fine on principle, so spent four days in Holloway prison.

David retired in 1982 and some years later they moved to a farm near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. Hilary took up riding, a childhood passion, joined U3A and was a hike leader. She planted a woodland of native trees on the land around their house, and volunteered for many years at the Riding for the Disabled Association and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

After David died in 1993, Hilary remained at the farm, hosting people from all over the world, through the organisation, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

An avid reader of novels, Hilary also wrote poetry and enjoyed knitting – her offspring cherished her stripy jumpers.

Hilary is survived by her children, Nicholas, Felicity, Caroline and me, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.