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19th June 2022, 17:50

​Lady Marcelle Hassan dies aged 86

Lady Marcelle Hassan, who was married to the former Chief Minister Sir Joshua Hassan, has died aged 86.

She was born Marcelle Bensimon in Larache, Morocco in 1935 and spent her childhood there.

She arrived in Gibraltar as a nurse and a manager of a transit camp for Moroccan Jewish immigrants on their way to Israel. She helped care for thousands of infirm Moroccan Jews on their difficult journey to Israel.

It was during this time that she met Joshua Hassan, who was said to be impressed with her humanity and empathy, developing a strong friendship which led to their eventual marriage in 1969.

As Lady Hassan she worked tirelessly with her husband, as his staunchest political defender and closest confidant during his long political career, which included 15 years as Chief Minister after their marriage (1972-1987).

Known for her compassion, she is said to have opened the doors of her home to those seeking help, regardless the time of day.

Even after Sir Joshua’s passing (25 years ago on July 1st), Lady Hassan continued to advocate for the vulnerable, petitioning for help and assistance.

Among her family, she was the matriarch, a “force of nature whom few could refuse”.

Her youngest daughter Marlene Hassan Nahon MP said her mother “was the personification of kindness and humility, a woman who made it her mission throughout her lifetime to help others and ensure that those in need were seen and cared for. She was also an amazing and devoted wife to our father, his co-pilot and his strength, in the challenging world of politics, and a fearless mother and grandmother who dedicated herself to her daughters and grandchildren. She is leaving a huge void in our lives and we will live to honour her memory and good deeds.”

Lady Hassan battled with illness in the last years of her life, receiving care at home almost until the end. She died in St Bernard's Hospital on Sunday morning, surrounded by her loved ones.

She is survived by her daughters, Fleur and Marlene, and her eight grandchildren.

Our condolences to them.

Tributes

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo MP said:

"Lady Hassan was an eminent member of our community who will be deeply missed. She was the wife of Sir Joshua Hassan and, as a result, was a prominent part of the public life of Gibraltar in the years when he was Chief Minister of Gibraltar. I have expressed the deepest condolences of the whole of our community to Lady Hassan's daughters, both of whom have cared for her in her elder years and through to her last days. They were with her as she passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are now with her children, grandchildren, friends and relatives at this sad time."

And the leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi MP, said Lady Hassan for so many years was at the heart of Gibraltar life, raising her family & at the side of the late and great Father of the Gibraltarians, Sir Joshua Hassan. He said she will be very missed.