CHURCHILL FAVOURITE ARABELLA DIES AT 58
08:00 – 21 December 2007
From the Western Daily Press
Arabella Spencer Churchill, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, and founder of the Children’s World charity, has died peacefully at her home in Glastonbury just a few weeks after being told she had cancer.
She died early yesterday, from pancreatic cancer, diagnosed seven weeks ago, with her family and close friends by her side.
Her death, at the age of 58, will come as an enormous shock to the thousands of children and teachers who have benefited from charities she founded to bring educational, creative and social help to all children, but particularly to those with special needs.
She was also a major force in the organisation of Glastonbury Festival, running the theatre and circus area.
She and her husband, juggler Haggis McCleod extended the work of Children’s World overseas, entertaining children in Sri Lanka and Thailand whose lives were devastated by the tsunami.
At home Children’s World, which Arabella founded in 1981, worked across the West to enrich children’s lives and help them attain their potential through drama, dance and play.
Day by day she saw her work in mainstream and special schools help to build children’s self-esteem. Every year Children’s World also runs two popular children’s festivals, in Glastonbury and Bristol.
Michael Eavis, founder of Glastonbury Festival, and a friend for more than 36 years, paid a moving tribute last night.
He said: “Arabella Churchill died at 3am today. It is with a great weight of grief and sadness to have to pass this message on to so many of you who have known her and worked with her for many years.
“She has been a stalwart and one of the most valuable members of our team for the last 37 years. Her energy, vitality, and great sense of morality and social responsibility have given her a place in our festival history second to none.”
Arabella and Mr McCleod had been married for 19 years. They have a daughter Jessica, 19.
Mr McCleod said: “We were on holiday in France when Arabella was taken ill, in September. She spent a month in hospital there before we came back to England. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“With the diagnosis that she had terminal cancer she chose not to have chemotherapy but to spend time to decide what was going to happen to the charity. It and the international charity will continue.
“Five days ago she was working nine hours a day. She was busy because she really wanted to arrange the hand-over of the charity.”
The family has asked for their privacy to be respected. A private service will be held for family and friends at Yeovil Crematorium at 10am on Monday and a memorial service is being planned for some time in the New Year.The family said: “Arabella wished there to be no flowers but that donations will be made to either Children’s World charity or Children’s World International.