Margaret Ferriman MBE, Labour councillor, Banbury Town Mayor, worker for racial equality and the Arts, has died

Margaret Ferriman, long time councillor and worker for equality, who has died aged 86Margaret Ferriman, long time councillor and worker for equality, who has died aged 86
Margaret Ferriman, long time councillor and worker for equality, who has died aged 86
Margaret Ferriman MBE, Labour county and district councillor, former Banbury Town Mayor and retired Chief Pharmacist at the Horton General Hospital, has died aged 86.

Margaret Ferriman is well remembered in Banbury for the many benefits she bought to the town and surrounding area. In her various role, as councillor, Banbury Town Mayor and alderman, she was instrumental in a number of projects which enhanced the area's social, educational and cultural life.

She was educated at Howells School, Llandaff and Cardiff University, School of Pharmacy, Wales. She became chief pharmacist at the Horton General Hospital, supervising a staff of a dozen and responsible for the needs of several small hospitals, until her retirement. She came out against the transfer of the Horton pharmacy operation to the Oxford hospitals in 2012.

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She was a tireless Labour councillor on Cherwell district and Oxfordshire county councils (serving as chairman of the latter), formed the Banbury and District Racial Equality Council and chaired the organisation for many years, was a senior member of the Thames Valley Police authority and chairman of the management committee of The Mill Arts and Community Education Centre for many years. She was Banbury Town Mayor from 1981 - 82.

Cllr Margaret Ferriman, Banbury Town Mayor 1981-82Cllr Margaret Ferriman, Banbury Town Mayor 1981-82
Cllr Margaret Ferriman, Banbury Town Mayor 1981-82

She tried fiercely to protect the democratic style of management of The Mill, which was restructured by the county council over a decade ago, and she was proud of a move to allow weekly, women-only swimming sessions at Spiceball pool.

She was made an MBE in the New Year's Honours in 2010 for her services to community relations.

A number of Labour councillors has paid tribute to the important work of Mrs Ferriman over the decades.

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Cllr Liz Brighouse Leader of the Oxfordshire County Council Labour Group said: "I first met Margaret some 40 years ago. She was a powerful member of the Labour Group on the county council, chaired the county council and was made an Alderman of the county.

"She was a one-off who championed equality issues, was the backbone of the Banbury Racial Equality Council and with Tony Snee transformed and expanded the Mill making it a significant cultural feature of Banbury. She was certainly a force to be reckoned with and not just by her political opponents, many of whom she respected."

Cherwell District Council's Labour leader, Cllr Sean Woodcock said: "I had the pleasure of knowing Margaret in the early 2010s when I was an aspiring, rather than actual, local politician. Margaret was a formidable advocate for any cause she believed in and was never shy to tell you if she disagreed with you. She was very passionate about Banbury and its citizens.

"We have lost a very great local champion who will be sadly missed. I extend my most sincere condolences to her family."

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John Christie chair of Banbury and Bicester Constituency Labour Party said: "The Labour Family in Banbury, Bicester and North Oxfordshire Villages are all saddened by Margaret’s death. She was a doyenne of the Party and Labour to her roots.

"She was a fierce champion of equality and justice for all and a fearsome opponent of Conservatives who she saw as an obstacle to social and economic progress. We will miss her fearless and feisty valour in these testing times."

Cllr Surinder Dhesi said: "I would like to pay my respects to Honorary Alderman Margaret Ferriman former Labour Councillor for Neithrop Ward and former Town Mayor of Banbury.

"I met Margaret when I joined Banbury Racial Equality Council. We used to meet in members' houses before we had an office in Crouch Street. Margaret was a true Labour stalwart who fought against racism and inequality and fought for better services for the community.

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"I was inspired by her and joined the Labour Party and stood in Neithrop Ward. It is a very sad day to lose someone who was a friend and colleague. Margaret during the last few years suffered from dementia but she still was witty. My condolences to her family and friends."

Mrs Ferriman had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for some years and had been cared for at St Anne's Care Home in Clifton, near Deddington. She died in her sleep on January 5.

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