Hundreds pay respects to first deaf MP Lord Jack Ashley of Stoke
SENIOR politicians joined celebrities, media personalities and hundreds of ordinary people in London to pay homage to a pioneering MP who represented Stoke-on-Trent for many years.
A memorial service in honour of Lord Jack Ashley of Stoke took place yesterday at the Church House conference venue in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.
The former Stoke South MP, who is perhaps best remembered as the first deaf MP and a tireless campaigner for disabled rights, died in April aged 89.
Figures from across the political spectrum were present at the service which had been organised by members of Lord Ashley's family along TV presenter Esther Rantzen.
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Among those paying tribute were Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Labour leader Lord Neil Kinnock of Bedwellty who described Lord Ashley as a 'hero'.
Also in attendance were many Labour front benchers including Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and Jack Straw along with veteran politicians such as Lord Alf Morris of Manchester and Baroness Betty Boothroyd.
The service included a slideshow of images chronicling Lord Ashley's political life and many from his family album as well as glowing tributes from friends, colleagues and ordinary people who had benefited from his campaigns.
To rapturous applause it was announced at the climax of the service that the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, would be launching the annual Lord Jack Ashley Memorial Disability Lecture in August.