Lady Elizabeth Andrew OBE, 1935 – 2018

27 Mar 2018

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Lady Elizabeth Andrew, founding member and patron of Prisoners’ Education Trust, who passed away on 13 January 2018, aged 82.

Lady Andrew joined PET in 1988, when the charity was working in just one prison, HMP Wandsworth. Speaking of PET’s foundation in a podcast to mark our 25th anniversary in 2014, Lady Andrew reflected: “It was just an idea that was so sensible. We do not run courses which say, ‘Do this and you’ll be literate’ – no. We say, ‘what would you like to do?’”

Under her Chairmanship from 1991 to 2001 PET’s work expanded to 100 prisons, with the total number of courses funded for people in prison rising to over 4,000. It was for this work that she was awarded the OBE in 2000.

Lady Andrew was instrumental in developing relationships with key figures in criminal justice and penal reform, as well as with many funders who still support the charity today.

Reflecting on early fundraising efforts, she said:

“I remember saying, we’re going to have a meeting and talk about money and I’d never raised money! And somebody said, well, we can have coffee mornings, or we could encourage people to make stuff and we could sell it and I said no, that is going to get us pennies; we need hundreds – we need thousands, I am going to the City. So I did!”

After her position as Chair came to an end, Lady Andrew continued to support PET as Patron and as a member of the South London Group, a volunteer committee which organises fundraising events for PET each year.

Lady Andrew passionately believed in PET’s work. She wrote:

 “Education is an essential element in any healthy prison regime. It is transformational and offers the possibility of changing lives. Study brings opportunities to expand horizons, and to acquire new skills, whether in artistic, academic, technical or craft fields. Education offers people a chance to be, or to do, something different. This can make it easier to find employment after release, which contributes to reducing the risk of re-offending.”

Alexandra Marks CBE, Chair at Prisoners’ Education Trust, says:

“Elizabeth was an extraordinary woman, with an extraordinary commitment to prisoners’ education. When I became Chair of PET in 2012, she lost no time in introducing herself to me, sending me a long letter in her characteristic cursive handwriting. She told me that she became PET’s first Chairman in 1990 when there was just over £1,000 in the bank. She continued, “If you are as passionate about prison education as I am, you can guess my feelings as I have watched PET grow and prosper”.

“We shall miss her inspirational drive, her pride in PET and her unique contribution to making the charity what it is today.”

When not advocating for prison reform, Lady Andrew was a passionate gardener. She is survived by her husband, two sons and five grandchildren. 

We are extremely grateful that in lieu of flowers, Lady Andrew’s family asked for donations to be made to PET. Lady Andrew and her family have also left a substantial sum to PET in her memory, through a legacy. 

We will be exploring ways to remember Lady Andrew and her contribution to PET with her family over the coming months. If you have memories you would like to share, please contact Cassie Edmiston, Head of Fundraising.