About myself

I was born in 1928 in St Kitts in what was then the British West Indies, the son of Norman Peyton Birch and Iris Berkeley King. My father was the accountant at the St Kitts branch of Barclays Bank; my mother's family had been in the West Indies for nearly 300 years. They named me Christopher Berkeley Peyton Birch and called me Christopher. My friends call me Chris.

Ten years in St Kitts were followed by seven years in Trinidad and a year in Barbados before going to England in 1946. At Bristol University I joined the Communist Party and met and fell in love with a very wonderful woman who married me in 1950. I stayed with the Communist Party for four decades; my wife and I celebrated our diamond wedding anniversary in 2010. We have two wonderful children, four amazing grandchildren and a beautiful great-granddaughter.

Most of my working life, I have been a journalist. I was editor of a local government weekly for 13 years; I taught journalism at the London College of Printing, now known as the London College of Communications; I was a sub-editor on the Morning Star.

On behalf of my uncle, I put up a memorial to the Countess of Pembroke (1304-1377) in Westminster Abbey in 1992 and fell in love with the Abbey in the course of the long negotiations with the Dean and Chapter and worked there as a volunteer for 20 years.

After a close friend was killed by HIV in 1987, I worked as a volunteer at London Lighthouse and represented it at Princess Diana's funeral, walking with others behind her coffin. I also worked at the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Kobler HIV Clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. In May 2007 I was elected a governor of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and served as as governor for eight years.

In 2010 my autobiography was published by the St Christopher Press: My Life: The Caribbean, Communism, Budapest 1956, journalism, HIV/Aids, London Lighthouse, Diana's funeral, Westminster Abbey, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and much more by Chris Birch (ISBN 978-0-9545721-1-2, 240pp, 28 photographs, £15). Order from www.StChristopherPress.com

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, you can get in touch with me at:
chris@chrisbirch.me.uk