Lady Goodman

The Daily Telegraph 30th January 2001

United Nations official who saved refugees from Stalin

Lady Goodman, who has died aged 89, was chief welfare officer for the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) after the Second World War, a post in which she succeeded, against official policy, in arranging visas to the West for hundreds of refugees threatened with death at Stalin’s hands.

Based in Germany, she managed to alleviate the living conditions of displaced Russians and Poles in camps at Geissen and Wetzlar. Russian officers who arrived to seize their nationals would be asked to wait, while she helped families to hide or escape.

Later, at the end of the 1960s, Lady Goodman was to the fore in establishing the Volunteer Workers’ Bureau, which became an independent charity in 1976. “Anstice Goodman has done that rare thing,” a colleague remarked, “transplanted an idea into reality.”

Lady Goodman had been born Anstice Crawley on December 7 1911 at Bishopthorpe Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of York, then Cosmo Lang. Her father, Stafford Crawley, was chaplain to the Archbishop at Bishopthorpe, which is on the banks of the Ouse three miles from York.

Very much a hunting parson in his prime, Crawley ended his career as a canon of St. George’s, Windsor, and helped to prepare Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for confirmation in March 1942. He noted that Princess Elizabeth took her preparation very seriously.

Anstice Crawley was Canon Crawley’s fourth child, one of two daughters and three sons. One of her brothers was Aidan Crawley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air in Clement Attlee’s Labour Government; in the 1960s he was Conservative MP for West Derbyshire, and finally, from 1969 to 1973, chairman of London Weekend Television.

Anstice Crawley was educated at home by governesses, and never encouraged to go to university. Form her father, however, she had imbibed a deep Christian faith, and she returned from her youthful travels with a strong sense of wanting to help, which she focused at that time on the unemployed in the East End.

Anstice Crawley raised funds from local businesses to set up the Fellowship Club in sheds on a canal in the Isle of Dogs, where the unemployed could learn various crafts. During this period she lived at Lambeth Palace as the guest of Cosmo Lang, who had become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1928.

Subsequently, she worked with Mary Trevelyan, raising money for the international students’ house. The outbreak of war took her to the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot, where she worked as a nurse for Voluntary Aid Detachment. Soon she was second-in-command in the military hospital in Farnborough, where, to the Commandant’s displeasure, she started a committee which encouraged sufferers from scabies to seek treatment.

Soon, however, Anstice Crawley moved on to take a diploma in Social Science at the London School of Economics (evacuated to Cambridge in the war), after which she returned to practical work as personnel officer for 2,000 women factory workers. It was a post which proved an ideal preparation for the rigours of the UNRRA.

In 1948 Anstice Crawley married, as his second wife, Victor Goodman, Clerk to the House of Lords. The First World War, in which he had won an MC and Bar, had left him with emphysema, and he had Parkinson’s Disease. By 1959, when he became Clerk of the Parliaments and was appointed KCB, she was nursing him devotedly. He had been a trustee of the British Museum since 1949; and she shared and greatly enjoyed his interest in history and the arts.

After Sir Victor’s death in 1967, Anstice Goodman became interested in channelling the skills of volunteer workers to the needs of their areas. With Pam Warren, who was applying the same ideas in Camden, Anstice Goodman persuaded Kensington and Chelsea to set up the Voluntary Workers’ Bureau in 1969.

She was delighted that in its first month the bureau attracted all manner of volunteers – housewives, actors, hairdressers, a model, a mechanic, and the manager of a local firm. Within a few years the bureau had become a nation-wide resource.

Later, Anstice Goodman became concerned about the lack of care available to those suffering from mental illness, and was instrumental in forming the Kensington and Chelsea branch of Mind.

Her life was governed by a desire to know and to discharge God’s will, a quest which she pursued not merely in action but also through prayer, conversation and reading. Although she had no children of her own, she took great interest in the lives of her numerous relations and friends, and in their children.

She lived by a strict code which did not readily accommodate those who lived outside it; nevertheless, she inspired great love from people of all backgrounds and interests. “I’m not really consistent about anything,” she once said, “I’m a responder to what comes up at the moment.”