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Nurses’ leader and International Brigadier, Thora Silverthorne (pictured left with Rodney Bickerstaffe) was born in Abertillery on the 25th November 1910. She was the daughter of George Richard Silverthorne, a miner at the Vivian & Six Bells Pit and Sarah Boyt of Bargoed. Her early years were spent at 170 Alma Street, Abertillery, she secured a scholarship to Nataglo County School (Hafod) and attended the local Baptist church run by Pastor Rev Ivor Evans.
With her mother’s early death, as one of seven children, she was forced to leave Abertillery for England. Initially she worked as a nanny for Sutcliffe-Bartlett, the Reading Labour MP, but fitted in selling the Daily Worker to the local railwaymen.
She then followed her sister into nursing at Oxford and was involved in Communist Party activities in the city. She participated with her close friend Christopher Hill in the October Club. The health needs of the hunger marchers that passed through Oxford on their way to London were tended to by her “helping her self to bandages and dressings on the wards”. She recalled that “Their feet were often in particularly bad state.”
On her return she married Dr Kenneth Sinclair Loutit, who she had met in Spain. They lived at 12 Great Ormond Street. Loutit was elected as a “unity front” Councillor prior to the War for Holborn, London.
After the war she became a union official in the Civil Service Association. As Secretary of the Socialist Medical Association, she met Attlee and other Ministers to discuss the establishment of the NHS in 1948.