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In memory of
Harry Mather  
Valerie Alferoff

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Vegan Views

   Valerie Alferoff (1933-2011) 

Valerie photo 

A few days after I wrote the ‘Short History of V.V.’ article for the Spring 2011 issue of Vegan Views I heard the sad news that my friend, and former Vegan Views editor, Valerie Alferoff had died at the age of 77. Valerie had been poorly for the last few years, following a stroke, and she passed away peacefully on January 29th, a few days after a second stroke.

Back in 1977 Valerie had offered her farmhouse near Blackburn for a Vegan Views social event, and that is where both David Barrett and I first met her. Valerie soon became part of the V.V. team, and she and David moved together the following year to a house in Edenfield, north of Manchester, which is where they edited V.V. from 1979 to 1984. She and David stayed together ever after, though in 1990 they moved to North Wales. The two photos on this page of Valerie and David date from June 1980 - soon after they had started editing Vegan Views.

Valerie brought her considerable artistic skills to Vegan Views, and drew a number of front covers - the first of which (for No.14) is reproduced below.  Many later issues also featured a variety of Valerie’s smaller drawings, and also several of her delicate poems which usually had a strong nature theme. Her poem ‘Dawn’, printed below, originally appeared in V.V. 29 in 1983.

Valerie and I also collaborated on the first cartoon strips. We worked together on the text, but only Valerie could draw. The ‘Parents’ cartoon from 1983, reproduced in issue 121, is one that - as far as I recall - she did pretty much on her own. As Valerie later wrote: “Much of the content of vegan magazines is of necessity dreadfully serious and often sad”, and the cartoons - which were very well received - acted as light relief.

David and Valerie

Valerie was born in Bury in Lancashire, and grew up mostly near Kendal in the Lake District, where her mother ran a vegetarian guest house, Lightbeck, for a while. Her surname Alferoff came from her Russian grandfather - he did not survive the Revolution, but her half-Russian father struggled in horrific conditions to eventually reach and settle in Britain. Valerie was vegetarian for large periods of her early life, coming back to it in her forties as a vegan after experiencing the distress of a calf being removed from its mother.  

She was probably always an artist, and at an enlightened school this was given free rein. She trained at Goldsmiths College in London, and then became a primary school teacher. She approached each child she came across as very much an individual, and guided the children to work together, especially through art. She went back to college in her forties, and again in her sixties when she got her BA in Art and Design. For much of her life she had been a climber and walker, something she got from both her parents, and which she has passed on to her daughter and grandchildren. Her last twenty years were spent in the mountains of Snowdonia, continuing to paint, surrounded by the trees she planted on previously sheep-grazed fields, discovering the ever increasing numbers of wild flowers, and watching the new birds attracted to the different habitat.

I remember a caring friend with a great sense of humour, someone who was an avid reader and letter writer, and who loved nature and the countryside. Valerie had two children, Bea and Joe, and three grandchildren.

I will finish with a line from Valerie, who ended an article in 1990 with this valediction: “My good wishes to vegans everywhere: may our ideas continue to grow and come to fruition all over the earth!”

                                                            Malcolm Horne (with help from David Barrett)

This obituary was first published in Vegan Views No 121
in 2011.

David Barrett, Valerie's long-term partner, has compiled a memorial website for Valerie, which includes a couple of more recent photos, and also a photo of Valerie as a young woman. 

VV 14 cover


My little golden flock
All dead but Flora
A wolf - dog - fox - killer
Visited with bloody intent
And left one headless chick
Her innocent feet
                     facing the sky
The sun will glow
on their spirit trips
Down the hill near

          the hawthorn trees .....

Valerie  (April 1977)

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Vegan Views 2014