Bernadette “Bernie” Hartley died of cancer in February 2008. She was a lifelong party activist and member of the NPF from 1997-1999.
Bernie was a teacher and notably started the campaigning body the National Fire Sprinkler Network and in turn the European Fire Sprinkler Network, which campaigned for greater fire protection standards. In Westminster, and in her sojourns to the Welsh and Scottish assemblies in Cardiff and Edinburgh and to the European Parliament in Brussels, Bernie galvanised politicians and experts. She wanted them to focus particularly on the vulnerable groups who were victims of inadequate fire protection: the young, the poor and the elderly. As a teacher, she thought that working-class children were often written off, but her career demonstrated that young people will respond to high expectations – and firm leadership.
Bernie chaired Gloucestershire’s network of neighbourhood centres (1998-2004) and was a co-founder in the late 1990s of the Gloucestershire Neighbourhood College which, with EU funding, provides free and low-cost education in eight areas blighted with poverty. She also became a governor of Gloucestershire College, and in 2000 a board member of the Gloucester Heritage and Urban Regeneration Company.