The death of Nan Maitland


FATE, the Glasgow based Right to Die organisation, confirmed today that one of its leading members travelled to Switzerland last month, with two FATE members by her side, to end her own life.

Speaking in Glasgow, Dr Libby Wilson, FATE’s Convenor and Medical Advisor said “While we support Nan Maitland’s motives and method of death, we (and indeed she no doubt) regret that it was necessary to travel so far from home in order to die with dignity and in the manner of one’s own choice”.

A memorial service took place in London last Tuesday to celebrate the life of Nan, an occupational therapist with a long time connection with the Assisted Suicide cause.

Nan was an active member of Friends At The End for many years. During this time, she wrote excellent book reviews for the FATE Newsletter, organized FATE meetings in London, and advised many individuals, in the UK, on how to travel to Switzerland for a physician-assisted suicide (actually, accompanying one person there in 2005).

Last month (March 1st), in her 85th year, Nan Maitland had a physician-assisted suicide in Switzerland. Before she left home in Chelsea, London, Nan had written the following message which she asked Dr Michael Irwin, who accompanied her on her last journey, to send to her “Dear Friends and Colleagues in the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies” after her death:


By the time you read this, with the help of FATE and the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep, never to wake.


For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called ‘prolonged dwindling’, that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.

Please be happy for me that I have been able to escape from this, for me, unbearable future. I have had a wonderful life, and the great good fortune to die at a time of my choosing, and in the good company of two FATE colleagues. With my death, on March 1st, I feel I am fully accepting the concept of ‘old age rational suicide’ which I have been very pleased to promote, as a founder member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS) in the past fifteen months.

Being active in the right-to-die movement, both in the UK and globally, has been an enormously important part of my life in the last few years. It has been wonderful and inspiring to meet so many amazing people who have been determined, often in the face of great odds, to help others to a peaceful pain-free death. I really hope that everybody’s important and vital efforts will continue, and result in legalized assisted dying becoming a reality in many more areas of the world in the coming years.

Best wishes, Nan Maitland


Liz Nichols, a member of the FATE Council, and Dr. Michael Irwin were with Nan when she had a very peaceful and dignified death.

Dr Libby Wilson can be contacted on 0141 334 3287
Or Sheila Duffy Press and Publicity Officer 0141 334 6336