Middleton, Mavis (1922-1999) peace activist and campaigner

Mavis MiddletonBIOGRAPHICAL/ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY: Mavis Middleton (nee Bidgood) was born July 28, 1922, and from the age of one grew up at Wensley House, a home school on the edge of the forest at Epping. She attended the Loughton County High School and then Bedford College, London, where she gained a certificate in Social Studies. As part of her training she worked for a time at the Stepney Green Jewish Girls Club and Settlement House, a place she loved and remained in contact with for many years.

Her first job was as a club leader for the National Council of Girls Clubs in Rugby, Warks. There she met her husband, ‘Middy’ Middleton, who was working for BTH (British Thompson Houston), and they were married on January 29, 1944.  Four and a half years later, they moved to Cambridge where Middy had been offered the post of university lecturer in electrical engineering. Two of their children were born in Rugby and two in Cambridge. As a young wife and mother, Mavis was fortunate enough not to have to go out to work, but she never lost her strong commitment to social causes.  During the early 1950s she joined in the efforts of the International Help for Children to find foster homes for refugee children from the Balkans. She and Middy were active in the local Liberal Party, and once hosted a fundraising garden party opened by Jo Grimmond.

During the 1960s as their children grew older, her voluntary activities increased.  For more than a decade she was an elected council member of the South Cambridgeshire Rural District Council. She was an active founder member of the Cambridge Law Surgery, the Cambridge Association for the Advancement of State Education and the Cambridge Association for the Prevention of Drug Addiction. From the late 1960s as their own children left home, she and Middy fostered a family of five children with whom they remained in touch for the rest of their lives. As a result of this experience, Mavis became involved with The Voice for the Child in Care, and later helped, both practically and financially, to establish a refuge for battered women in Cambridge. She was employed for a year as a welfare support worker for students at the Cambridge College of  Arts and Technology.

During the course of the 1970s, Mavis became increasingly active with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the Cambridge and the East Anglia groups and then on the national committee.  In June 1982, she and Middy attended the United Nations Second Special Session on Nuclear Disarmament in New York, and in October 1983, on behalf of CND, she went to lobby US senators in Washington, DC. In 1987, after 40 years in Cambridge, Mavis and Middy moved to Whittlesey, Cambs.  Mavis became a volunteer general adviser for the Peterborough CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau), and then for DIAL Peterborough (Disability Information and Advice Line).  She continued to do this to the end of her life. Middy died in 1994, aged 88, and Mavis died on New Year’s Day, 1999.

SCOPE AND CONTENT:
Papers of peace activist and campaigner Mavis Middleton (1922-1999), including:

  • correspondence with politicians and Government ministers on political, local and green issues, 1989-1999.
  • photograph album recording the visit to the United Nations Second Special Session on Nuclear Disarmement, the visit to the US to lobby senators on behalf of CND and meetings in the UK, along with loose photographs of various demonstrations and meetings, 1974-1985.
  • papers regarding the Non-Proliferation Treaty, 1982-1985.
  • papers and articles regarding Professor Sir Martin Ryle, 1982-1987.