Councillor Maureen Christian -2009

Maureen Christian, who died after a short illness on 31 January 2009 aged 82, was a champion of social justice and of her adopted home city. Born in Seaham, County Durham, she grew up in Scarborough and moved to Oxford in 1949 with her husband Jack, a scientist at Oxford University. In 1962/63 the family spent a year in Cleveland, Ohio, where Maureen was horrified by the racism of the time. She joined first the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and then Black Power. Days before she died she was able to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration on TV.

Maureen was first elected as a Labour city councillor in Oxford from 1987, serving as Chair of the Planning Committee from 1993 to 2000, Lord Mayor in 2000/2001, and Executive Member for Culture and Tourism from 2002 to 2005. She oversaw the approval of plans for an Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and, despite the controversy which developed, she used her casting vote as Mayor to enable the Centre to be built. The director, Dr Farhan Nizami, said: “Her foresight and conviction ensured that Oxford is not a city of lost causes”. She was involved with many arts organisations and a passionate advocate for the people of her ward.

Maureen lost her council seat in 2006 but, undaunted, fought back and was re-elected in 2008 at the age of 81, working until the end. Friends and comrades of all parties and of none celebrated her life at a memorial event on 14 February.