Tributes paid to Derbyshire campaigner and councillor Toni Bennett
Tributes have been paid to Toni Bennett, former Mayor of Bolsover and Bolsover District and Town Councillor, who has died in Chesterfield Royal Hospital after a long illness.
Toni moved up to Chesterfield from London to work at the AGD, becoming a union official for the Union of Communication Workers and was active in the local Labour Party through her Trade Union.
Before she moved to North Derbyshire she had worked in London at the South African Embassy. Toni was a lifelong anti-racist and following her work commitments at the Embassy she would join the protests against Apartheid outside the building in the evening.
In Chesterfield she became part of Caroline Benn’s A Team in the 1984 By-election that returned Tony Benn as MP. The team went on to form a support group for the Scarsdale Hospital workers in dispute. She met Dave Bennett, married and moved to Bolsover.
Toni was a founder member of the Bolsover Women’s Action Group at the start of the miners’ strike. She helped feed the families, spoke at numerous meetings and was arrested on the picket line.
One of her colleagues during this period Kate Alvey said : “Toni was a passionate and principled class warrior, fiercely proud of her socialist values. Forthright, funny, generous and caring are all adjectives you could use to describe Toni, but above all she was devoted to Dave and her sons Gary and Mark, daughter Sonia and grandson Michael.”
Toni volunteered for the Trade Union Safety Team, helping those made ill by their work and supported all of TUC campaigns, as well as proudly carrying the Women’s Action Group banner on May day.