This International Women’s Day we would like to pay tribute to Betty Boothroyd and the amazing support she showed Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals over the years. Baroness Boothroyd was a trailblazing woman who sadly passed away on Sunday 26 February.

Baroness Boothroyd came from a humble background. She was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in 1929, and she rose to one of the highest offices in the land, becoming the first women to be Speaker for the House of Commons. She was also the Labour Member of Parliament for West Bromwich (later West Bromwich West) from 1973 to 2000.

Whilst she was an MP, Baroness Boothroyd was a Parliamentary Whip and sat on the Select committee on Foreign Affairs. In 1992, she became the first woman to be elected speaker, famously, declining to wear the traditional speaker’s wig. During her time as Speaker, she worked to encourage more young people to get involved in politics, including with an appearance on Live & Kicking.

She retired as speaker in 2000. Then Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to her, describing her as "something of a national institution" and former PM John Major said she was an "outstanding Speaker". She was made a member of the House of Lords in 2001.

Baroness Boothroyd was an incredible supporter of Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals. In 2009, she had open heart surgery at Royal Brompton to fix a narrowing of a valve in her heart. She was a major part of the Don’t Break a Beating Heart campaign to prevent the decommissioning of congenital heart disease services at Royal Brompton Hospital and spoke at a protest rally on behalf of the campaign in March 2017.

As well as supporting the hospitals directly, Baroness Boothroyd also supported Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity. She read at the 2014 Royal Brompton Carol Concert and attended An Audience with Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub. During the first lockdown she sent a message of support to staff members at the hospitals. In her message she said:

Thank you for your steadfastness and devotion to duty. You are like a bright star shining out over a dark, frightening sky, giving us hope for a future. Keep shining and smiling and mind how you go. 

Throughout her later years she remained a supporter of the hospitals and the Charity. Sadly, Baroness Boothroyd passed away on February 26 2023, at the age of 93.

We remember Baroness Boothroyd for how she broke through the glass ceiling and for being an extraordinary supporter of the life-saving work of the hospitals. She is an inspiration to ground-breaking women everywhere.