January 4, 2017 at 09:21PM

My grandmother Amber Lloyd, who has died aged 95, was a founder member of the National Childbirth Trust and the creator of the charity Relaxation for Living.

Amber and her brother, Aubrey, were born and brought up in London, the children of Sylvia and Sunny Wallace Barr. Her father, a former accountant, had made his fortune manufacturing the aeroplane adhesive known as dope. The family spent summers at Seaview in the Isle of Wight, where, aged 17, Amber met Desmond Lloyd. His family disapproved, so the two married in secret in 1941 when Desmond was on leave from the navy in the second world war. Amber survived a bombing that killed her parents, and a fire that burned down the Devon farm to which she decamped.

In 1946, she and Desmond settled in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, where they brought up their six children in an atmosphere of eccentricity and love. Amber reared budgies and tortoises – she was one of the first in the UK to breed the latter successfully – and housed a motley assortment of beloved dogs. She was a member of the East and West Friendship Council, an organisation founded to offer hospitality to “colonial and eastern students”, and often had overseas guests at a time when it was rare to see non-white faces in Surrey.

In 1956 she answered an advertisement in the Times inviting like-minded women to form an organisation to promote the work of Grantly Dick-Read, a British obstetrician who disagreed with the increased medicalisation of birth. It was the beginning of what would become the NCT. She established the first local branch in Walton and Weybridge, and also set up a twins group for struggling parents in the area. Both thrived.

Inspired by her NCT work and Desmond’s first heart attack, Amber founded Relaxation for Living in 1972. It aimed to help people cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life, and was Britain’s first relaxation charity. For a shy woman she had a high media profile – she was interviewed on Radio 4 and once shared a breakfast television sofa with the miners’ leader Arthur Scargill.

Desmond’s death in 1978 was a terrible shock, but she ploughed stoically on with her work and pushed herself to travel, often to troubled regions, often alone. Throughout everything, family remained all-important and we gathered regularly for parties; she proved in later years to be a wise and gentle great-grandmother.

Amber is survived by her four sons, Robin, Gary, Simon and Alan, two daughters, Cherry and Charlotte, 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

from Education | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2iEZFDN