Chipping Norton mourns the death of 'inspirational socialist' and retired district councillor Eve Coles who supported the miners, Greenham women and CND

Chipping Norton is this week mourning the death of a much loved resident, mother, carer, politician, campaigner and friend Eve Coles, who has died aged 81.

Eve Coles, an inspirational socialist, who has died aged 81
Eve Coles, an inspirational socialist, who has died aged 81

Eve Coles was described as a dedicated, inspirational socialist and long-serving councillor. She died peacefully at the John Radcliffe Hospital on January 28.

Vice chair of Chipping Norton Labour Party, Steve Akers. described Mrs Coles as a 'much loved comrade and friend'.

"She had a very full life as a mother, carer, campaigner and councillor. She was caring, compassionate and hugely committed in both her work as a carer for the elderly until she retired and also as a district and town councillor for Chipping Norton.

Eve Coles was for many years west Oxfordshire's only Labour councillor

"She cared passionately about the town and its people. She was very much 'old Chippy' and 'Old Labour'."

Mrs Coles was heavily active in the peace movement in support of the Greenham Women who established a peace camp in Berkshire in 1981, becoming the largest women’s protest since the suffragettes. She helped Labour county councillor and farmer David Barbour achieve international fame when they painted a huge CND symbol on the top of one of his barns under the flight path of the USAF bombers, based at Upper Heyford. And she was one of those who protested against the bombing of Libya.

Mrs Coles played a leading role in Oxfordshire in support of South Wales miners during the Miners Strike of 1984-1985. She was later presented with a miners lamp by them in appreciation of her fundraising and political support.

During the Thatcher government she campaigned tirelessly against cuts by the Tories at County Hall, in defence of the NHS and against the hated Poll Tax, Mr Akers said.

Mrs Coles was a workplace steward and activist in NUPE and then UNISON. She was an inspiration to a new generation of women councillors in Labour.

"Eve carried the torch for peace, justice and equality for many years as the only Labour councillor in West Oxfordshire. She was a legend here. She was hugely proud of Chipping Norton's Labour and Co-operative tradition," said Mr Akers. "She served as a district councillor for Chipping Norton for almost 20 years, standing down in 2015. She was also a long standing member of Chipping Norton Town Council.

"Chipping Norton Labour Party will be paying tribute to her life and work at our Annual General Meeting this Thursday evening at the Crown and Cushion Hotel."

Mrs Coles' funeral will be a private, family occasion. There will be a memorial event in celebration of Eve's life at Chipping Norton Town Hall in the early summer.