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Arabella Spencer-Churchill
Born October 30, 1949(1949-10-30)
London
Died December 20, 2007 (aged 58)
Glastonbury
Known for charity founder, festival co-founder, and fundraiser

Arabella Spencer-Churchill (30 October 1949 – 20 December 2007) was an English charity founder, festival co-founder, and fundraiser.

In 1971, Churchill played a major role in the development of the Glastonbury Festival. In 1979, she set up the Children's Area of the Festival and also the Theatre Area. Until her death, she ran the Theatre and Circus Fields. Her duties in the 2007 festival involved the booking and management of some 1500 separate acts. She also founded and was the director of the Children's World charity.

Contents

Life

She was born in London to Randolph Churchill (son of Sir Winston Churchill) and his second wife June Osborne, and is half sister to Winston Churchill.[1] She appeared, at the age of two, in the portrait of Winston Churchill and his family which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.[2]

Arabella Churchill in 1967

She went to Fritham School for Girls, where she was Head Girl, and then Ladymede school, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. She worked at Lepra, the charity for leprosy sufferers, and then briefly at London Weekend Television.[3]

In 1954 she had appeared on the cover of Life as part of a feature on possible future spouses of Prince Charles [4]. In 1967 she was 'Debutante of the Year' , met the Kennedys and Martin Luther King in America and was romantically linked with Crown Prince (now King) Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in 1970.[5] In 1971 she was invited to represent Britain at the Norfolk International Azalea Festival in Virginia, established in 1953 after Nato's Allied command was established there. Each year a Nato country is honoured, and invited to send a beautiful “Azalea Queen" as its ambassador.

Churchill refused to go, indicating in a letter she believed in the goals of the peace movement, and was horrified by the Vietnam War.[6] Chased through London by a surprised press, she left instead for rural Somerset, where she helped lead the first full-scale incarnation of the Glastonbury Festival with Andrew Kerr and Michael Eavis.

During the 1970s she embraced the alternative culture of the time, which included living for a time in a squat[5] but later worked and lived on a farm. She granted a rare interview to Rolling Stone magazine[7]. In 1979 Churchill and Kerr were again in charge of the festival, and from then on her administration continued alongside Eavis and Kerr, aside from the founding and leading of Children's World and work as a fundraiser.

In 1972 she married Jim Barton, and in 1973 had a son, Nicholas Jake. In 1987 she met her second husband, a juggler, Haggis McLeod, and in 1988 they had a daughter, Jessica.[1]

She embraced Tibetan Buddhism through the teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.[3]

In 2000 she was scheduled to have a facelift live on American television, however this was cancelled just before it was due to take place.[8]

Death

On Thursday 20 December 2007, she died at St Edmund's Cottages, Bove Town, Glastonbury, Somerset, aged 58.

She had suffered a short illness due to pancreatic cancer, for which she had refused chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A convert to Buddhism, arrangements following her death respected that faith, and included a parade and simple farewell on the final evening of the Glastonbury Festival in June 2008.

Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis, paying tribute to her after her death, said "Her energy, vitality and great sense of morality and social responsibility have given her a place in our festival history second to none".[9]

On the eve of her death, her son, Nicholas Jake Barton, was jailed in Sydney for three years after pleading guilty to being involved in a large-scale ecstasy plot.[10]

References

Further reading

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