Claire (Palmer, No. 3, 1966-71) is a director of My Death, My Decision, a not-for-profit organisation largely run by volunteers. My Death, My Decision campaign for a more compassionate law on assisted dying, to permit medical assistance to die for people of sound mind who are terminally ill or suffering from incurable conditions. Claire has had a very varied working life, from selling houses in London to starting a group of children’s nurseries. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband, golden retriever, cats and with a daughter and grandson nearby. Claire also spends time in London and Barcelona where her other two children live.
What is your favourite memory of Roedean?
My favourite memory of Roedean was studying Baudelaire. The young teacher taught us as if we understood passion and dissolution - it was thrilling! And the poppies in the cornfields behind the school.
What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at School?
Learning to question everything was very good advice.
When you were at Roedean, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I didn’t have a career in mind at school, but I definitely wanted a career and believed I could have one, and despite obstacles, I did!
What are you now you’ve grown up?
I’ve had a very varied working life, both paid and voluntary. I sold houses in London, when my children were growing up, I started, ran, and then sold a group of children’s nurseries. I’ve been a prep school governor, a children’s charity trustee and an Independent Monitor of one of Her Majesty’s prisons, now I’m a director of My Death, My Decision. We campaign for a more compassionate law on assisted dying, to permit medical assistance to die for people of sound mind who are terminally ill or suffering from incurable conditions, such as Motor Neurone Disease and other degenerative brain conditions. As with many other social advances, assisted dying has its opposition, but like women’s rights and equal marriage, when change happens people look back and wonder what took us so long. Almost 90% of the public supports law reform; it’s time Parliament looked at the evidence and safeguards from around the world and acted. We should be unafraid to permit choice at the end of life, just as society has accepted choice and equality in other life choices. I’m optimistic that change is on its way.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Although I’m not involved in education now, I’m most proud of creating a business that continues to provide employment and one which allows parents of young children to work, knowing that their children are being well taught and cared for. And my three children are kind, socially responsible and well-balanced.
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
I’m not allowed to take my three beautiful but totally useless British Shorthair cats to a desert island, am I, as they’re animate? Well then; a really warm coat, a landscape my daughter painted and a year’s supply of dark chocolate.
What books have had a significant influence on you and why?
I love the inter war authors that Persephone Books specialise in, with their wry perspectives. I enjoy fiction most, but also writers who make me think about the future, such as Jamie Bartlett and Michael Pollan.
What is on your bucket list?
My main aim is to celebrate outside Parliament when an assisted dying law is passed.
If you had one year and unlimited funds, what would you do?
My fantasy spend would be to create an arboretum and dot it with modern sculpture.