Susan Lilian Primrose Cunliffe-Lister

Dowager Countess of Swinton

It is with deep sadness that we announce that Susan Lilian Primrose Cunliffe-Lister, Dowager Countess of Swinton, has died at the age of 87

Lady Swinton became a wheelchair user following a riding accident in 1958 and was a lifelong champion for causes related to disability rights. Her love of horses and riding remained with her throughout her life, continuing to run the Masham Riding Centre in Masham, until her death.

She also enjoyed a prominent sporting career. Two years after her riding accident, in 1960, she became a Paralympian winning a gold medal in the 25m breaststroke at the Paralympic Games in Rome, followed by a second gold medal in the women’s doubles table tennis in Tokyo in 1964.

In 1970, Lady Swinton became a life peer, holding the title of Baroness Masham of Ilton DL, and maintained a prominent political career throughout her life, sitting as an independent crossbencher in the House of Lords for a total of 53 years, and more than any other female peer in history. As part of this role, she founded the Spinal Injuries Association in 1974, a charity that has continued to champion, fight, serve and support thousands of spinal cord-injured people. Throughout her time in the House of Lords, the Baroness sat on various committees, including the HIV and Aids Committee, Administrative and Works Committee and the Science and Technology Committee. In 2011, she became Patron of the charity Disability Action Yorkshire and in the same year, she was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of Nursing.

Whilst Lady Swinton never lived in the castle, many people may recall the parties held in the drawing rooms, which they often used for entertaining prior to the whole site being sold. It was in 2000 that her nephew Mark, the current Earl, and Felicity bought back the building and started transforming it into the luxury hotel it is today.

Lady Swinton is survived by her two children, Clare and Jessie.

A Funeral service for the late Dowager Countess of Swinton, Baroness Masham of Ilton, will be held on Friday 24th March at 2pm in St Mary’s Church, Masham. The wake will then follow at Swinton Park Hotel, all are invited. Family Flowers only and any donations in lieu will go towards the Spinal Injuries Association charity.

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