AddThis SmartLayers

Campaigner inspires former editor's new book

A woman’s campaign to raise awareness of human rights abuses in her homeland which was covered by a regional daily has spawned a book by its former editor.

Barrie Williams has penned Marshmallow Fishes about Zimbabwean-born Kathleen O’Dea, who sought his help to raise awareness of the plight facing people in her native country while he was editor of Plymouth’s Western Morning News.

Champion swimmer Kathleen, who fled Zimbabwe after being held hostage and abused by murderous land-grabbing war veterans, hoped that if she could tell her story to the British government stronger action would be taken against its leader Robert Mugabe.

The Morning News ran a series of articles on her campaign before arranging for her to meet with then Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street with a petition signed by thousands of its readers.

Marshmallow FishesThe book tells the full story of her life as a “wandering Zimbabwean” in exile.

Recalls Barrie:  “I met Kathleen when, as editor of the Western Morning News , she sought my help in raising with the British Government the horrific brutality, murder, rape and intimidation being perpetrated in Zimbabwe.

“That was just the start of a tireless campaign by Kathleen to help exiled black Zimbabweans in the UK and to seek justice for the victims of murder, rape and torture in her beloved homeland.

“Later, Kathleen continued her protest in Australia, where she now lives and where she led a high profile campaign against the Australian cricket team’s tour of Zimbabwe.

Barrie, who also served as editor of both the Kent Evening Post and Nottingham Evening Post, has previously written four books on people he encountered during his 40 year career, with his subjects including footballer Tommy Lawton and notorious ‘union buster’ Christopher Pole-Carew.

Marshmallow Fishes is available now at