When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
City to honour Oxfam with Freedom award
OVER 70 years, millions of people across the world have had cause to thank Oxfam. Now it is to be Oxford’s turn.
The charity is to receive a special 70th birthday gift from its home city – the Freedom of Oxford.
The honorary title has been presented to some of the most eminent people in Oxford’s history as well as international figures such as Nelson Mandela and, most recently, the pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.
But the decision was taken to honour the charity in recognition of its unique achievements both in the city and in combating poverty and suffering across the world.
Today Oxfam – which was founded in Oxford during the Second World War – is one of Oxford’s largest employers, providing 700 jobs in Cowley.
It also enjoys the support of many volunteers across the city, including those who help run the charity’s 20 shops across Oxfordshire, including the UK’s first charity shop in Broad Street.
"We are very proud of our beginnings in Oxford and what we have gone on to achieve"Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking
The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Alan Armitage, will present Oxfam chief executive Dame Barbara Stocking and chairman Karen Brown with the Freedom of the City scroll at a Town Hall ceremony in October.
Mr Armitage said: “Oxfam has made a huge difference to the lives of many millions of people across the world, during 70 years.
“We in Oxford can be very proud of the organisation's strong links with our city, and the unfailing support it has had from our citizens.
“This is a good time to demonstrate our appreciation by awarding Freedom of the City.”
Dame Barbara said: “I am delighted. We are very proud of our beginnings in Oxford and what we have gone on to achieve in the past 70 years, working to overcome poverty and suffering worldwide.
“Oxford residents have played a big part in our success over the years; as staff, volunteers and supporters, and Oxfam shops play a special role within the community.”
Anne Gornall, from Eynsham, who has worked at Oxfam for 21 years, said: “Things are managed more professionally now but deep down Oxfam has never changed.
“It is the same idealistic, brave organisation that it has always been. People are enthused and motivated because they know what they are working for. There remains a family feel, with ex-staff and volunteers staying in close contact.”
Oxfam, which has its headquarters in John Smith Drive, Cowley, began life in Oxford 70 years ago as the Oxford Committee For Famine Relief to combat wartime suffering in Greece.
From life-saving emergency responses to international campaigns, it has grown into a global movement for change, working in more than 90 countries – including the UK – to overcome poverty.
The Freedom is awarded to “persons of distinction” or people who have rendered eminent services to the city.
It offers recipients – or their representatives – the right to attend council meetings and ceremonial events.
Among those who have been awarded the Freedom are anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela, Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Oxford twin towns Bonn and Leiden, local politician Olive Gibbs, four-minute miler Sir Roger Bannister, Prof Sir Richard Doll, one of the first two scientists to link smoking with lung cancer, His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman , Inspector Morse author Colin Dexter and Admiral Nelson
- Do you have any old memories of Oxfam? Call reporter Reg Little on 01865 425434 or email rlittle@ oxfordmail.co.uk