Corin Redgrave critical after collapse at meeting

Sam Jones
Thursday June 9, 2005

The actor and political activist Corin Redgrave was critically ill in hospital last night after suffering a heart attack while defending a controversial Travellers' site at a public meeting.

Redgrave, 65, had just begun his speech to Basildon council's development control committee when he fell unconscious to the floor.

The meeting was cancelled and Redgrave was taken to Basildon hospital in Essex.
Just before he collapsed, Redgrave had revealed that he was being treated for cancer at the Royal Marsden hospital in London.

Ron Poulter, who was standing next to Redgrave when he collapsed, said: "He stopped talking [and] sank to his knees

"The police used their machines on him twice. The second time they seemed to get a pulse and then one of the Gypsies started giving him mouth to mouth."

Redgrave was at the meeting at Basildon's Townsgate Theatre to speak on behalf of the 500 Gypsies and Travellers who live at Crays Hill, near Billericay.

They arrived at the seven-acre greenfield site five years ago, and have campaigned to stay on the site despite fierce local opposition.

The issue has proved so divisive in the area that parents removed their children from the village primary school in protest, leaving Traveller children as the only pupils.

Two years ago, the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, turned down appeals for planning permission and gave the illegally camped travellers two years to find new sites.

When the deadline expired on May 13, Basildon council called a public meeting to decide whether to evict the 80 families still at the site. More than 300 villagers and Travellers packed the theatre last night to listen to the debate.

Redgrave had told the councillors: "I've been to Crays Hill primary school. I've witnessed the trauma that these children, whose families are refugees from previous evictions, are under.

"I think I know what it would do to them if you evict traumatised children."

Last night, Kathleen McCarthy, one of the Travellers who accompanied him to the hospital, said: "We are all feeling it. He is like a member of our family."

"He got so angry when he was talking because he had heard people telling lies about us."

The actor's second wife, Kika Markham, was last night being driven from London to the hospital by police.

Redgrave had written about the plight of the Gypsies and Travellers in yesterday's Guardian, describing them as "the most deprived community in the country".

Redgrave has starred in films and on TV since the early 1960s, with roles in The Charge of the Light Brigade, Oh! What a Lovely War, In the Name of the Father and, more recently, in Enduring Love.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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Please, folks at the Guardian and elsewhere, do not call those people at Dale Farm "Gypsies" - regardless of whether you spell it with a capital "G" or a small one. They are NOT Gypsies but Irish Travellers and therefore but Gohja who live in trailers; and not much different to American Redneck Trailer Trash (I do know that some people will highly oibject to this comparison but the truth does hurt at times), with the exception that the Irish Travellers tend to move about as well with those trailers. Irish Travellers are NOT, please let me reiterate that, Gypsies as per the dictionary proper, as Gypsy refers to, theoretically, only to the "ethnic group" of Romani (or Romany in the anglicized spelling) and NOT to other itinerant groups. The often used term "nomadic" is incorrect as well. Shame most journalists do not seem to know such finer points. Dosta!