My Aunt Anne Mobbs, who passed away at the age of 84, was a community organizer and activist fully committed to advancing social justice.
Born to a Jewish family in Tottenham, north London, Anne was one of five children born to Miriam (nee Weinberg), a seamstress, and Nathan Wrightman, a carpenter. She and her two sisters were evacuated to Cornwall during World War II, and after completing her education she worked in secretarial roles at Granada TV, the BBC World Service and the National Film Theatre.
Inspired by the formation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958, she quickly became an active CND member until, along with her husband, David Mobbs, a biochemist and Communist Party member whom she married in 1959, she died in 1960. moved to Nigeria with their young children.
David taught at the University of Ibadan, while Anne was employed by the university’s drama school and helped organize film and theater festivals. That work introduced her to the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and years later she was involved in protests against his execution by the Nigerian army.
Anne also lived with her family in Ghana and Zambia and in Zambia she collected money for the African National Congress.
When Anne returned to the UK in 1971 and settled in Oxford, she became a part of my life. Growing up under Margaret Thatcher, I was deeply influenced by Anne’s dedication to helping those who struggled in the harsh political climate. She also supported successful campaigns to get Oxford City Council to divest its apartheid pension fund in South Africa. Working as an assistant community relations officer at Oxford, from 1975, she helped win racial discrimination cases and organize support for initiatives celebrating black culture.
From the late 1980s, Anne was the organizer of Oxford City Council’s Fun in the Parks festival, booking music, bands, circus acts, comedians and stalls. She also helped set up the annual Oxford International Women’s Festival, raised the profile of the Oxford bail bond support group founded by Asylum welcome to secure the release of those held in the Campsfield House detention center, and was a driving force behind the center’s closure – and received support from the band Radiohead.
Even after she retired, Anne couldn’t resist joining in and supporting a local group in the Jericho area of Oxford, where she lived.
Anne and David separated in 1973 and divorced two years later. She leaves behind her children, Keir, Ruth and Amanda, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.