Lynda Walker (1945 - present)

Lynda Horton

Lynda Mary Horton was born in Sheffield and for most of her early life she lived in Parson Cross, one of the big sprawling housing estates, with her parents and her sister, her brother was 15 years older than she was and he left home aged 17. As a young girl along with her sister Margaret, they joined dancing classes and were often on stage in local community shows.

She went to Southey Green Primary and then Southey Green Secondary schools leaving school at the age of 15, going to work in Morton’s Scissors, a small factory, on West Street in Sheffield.

She married at the age of 18 and had two children, Daniella on the 8th March 1964 and Russell on the 17th December 1966. In 1967, she left her husband.

In 1967, she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and began to be active on a number of political issues including the Vietnam War, and attended Connolly Association, anti-apartheid and communist meetings.

In July 1969, she went to live in Belfast and became the partner of Terry Bruton who she eventually married-they were together for ten years.

In Belfast, she joined the N.I. Communist Party, which became the Communist Party of Ireland in 1970. She was also active in the Connolly Youth Movement and was Northern Area Secretary for a period of time in the early 70s.

In 1971, she helped to lead the protest against Maggie Thatcher’s school milk cuts and was instrumental in contacting the Ulster Farmers Union who loaned the Belfast women two cows, which they took on their demonstration to the City Hall. The Belfast City council passed a motion opposing the cuts, maybe one of the few unanimous votes at the time. She was also very active in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

In 1975, she was s founder member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement and helped open Belfast’s Women’s Centre in 1979.

All during the 70s up to the present day, Lynda has been active in women’s and Trade Union politics. She is a trade union activist first joining TASS, then NATFE/UCU. In 1978, she became a delegate to the Belfast Trades Council. She was also secretary of the ICTU Women’s Committee in the 70s and 80s and was a Commissioner in the Equal Opportunities Commission, representing the ICTU, from about 1986 to early 1990’s. She was a founder member of Training for Women Network (TWN) 1996; Reclaim the Agenda 2010, and active in a number of abortion law reform organisations.

In the 1970s, Lynda began to study, first at Rupert Stanley College, now Belfast Metropolitan College (Belfast Met) then she went to Queen’s University (QUB). In 1974, as a mature student at Queens University, she produced her first small piece of research on women and discrimination for the Queens Students Union; she was given a life membership of the union

Lynda graduated with an Honours Degree in 1977 and went to work at Belfast Technical College (TEC) now Belfast Met. She started part time teaching in the ‘TEC’ in 1977 and taught apprentices from the Shipyard, Shorts, and Government Training Centres. For the first 16 years, she taught 16/17 year olds General Education, as well as Social and Life Skills to teenagers on the Youth Training Programme.

In 1993, she embarked on a Masters Degree in Educational Research at QUB. In the same year, the college – then known as Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, now Belfast Met – brought in the Women’s Studies Foundation Course, which she taught, and she eventually became the Director of Women’s Studies. The course was run in Footprints Women’s Centre and the Shankill Women’s Centre as well as College Square East; she retired from college in 2008.

Some of the remarkable women that she met include Valentina Tereshkova, in 1978, the first woman astronaut in 1978 (in Moscow), Gertrude Shope in Moscow in 1987, leader of the Women’s Section of the African National Congress, Vilma Castro from Cuba, in 1987 Moscow, Angela Davis, Moscow 1987 and Belfast 1994 and 2017, and American actor and political activist Vinie Burrows 1984.

Plus many women from Ireland like, Betty Sinclair, Madge Davison, Edwina Stewart, Avila Kilmurry, Monica McWilliams, Bronagh Hinds, Patricia McKeown Inez McCormack, Bernadette McAlisky too many to mention. And many of the fantastic women’s studies students that she taught. She made some great friends in women’s studies, amongst them Vilma Bisson, young Brenda Bruton, Eileen Kinner, Dawn Purvis, Joan Crothers, Claire Bailey, Terry McKeown, even Joyce McCartan  (with her MBE, and Honorary degree) who joined a GCSE Politics class the year before she died. There were a whole lot of others from the ‘Tec’, Footprints and the Shankill Women’s Centre.

Lynda was a founder member of the NI Women’s Coalition (NIWC) and stood as a candidate in the Peace Talks helping to get Pearl Sagar and Monica McWilliams elected. She also stood in the local elections for the NIWC on the Shankill Road.

She remains a member of the Communist Party of Ireland where she was the National Chairperson from 2006 -2017. In 1988, she met up with and married a long time comrade and friend Ernest Walker from Sheffield who came to live in Belfast. In 1994, her son Russell died, age 27, as a result of being given contaminated blood products, he was a haemophiliac. Lynda has a daughter and three grandchildren.