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Dr Patricia Moberly

Honorary Doctorate of Sciences


Dr Patricia Moberly has made a significant contribution to the National Health Service and the education of young people. She has also, during her career, actively promoted the values of diversity and inclusion, not least in the fight against racism.

Patricia Moberly's went to Liverpool University where she gained a First Class Honours Degree in English under the direction of Kenneth Muir, the eminent Shakespeare scholar. In 1964, she and her husband moved to the parish of Chikola in the Zambian Copper Belt.

It was a life-transforming experience and a notable year. On 20th April 1964 Nelson Mandela made his famous opening speech in defence of the ANC's tactics at his trial in Pretoria and which led, of course, to his imprisonment for 27 years and the beginning of world recognition of what apartheid really was.

Zambia, however, is where the exiled leaders of the ANC were established and it was there that Patricia and Richard met a number of them. Many years later they were guests at the Presidential inauguration in South Africa. And thus began her own engagement with the politics of racial oppression; she joined the Zambian UNIP party, one of the very white woman members of that party and despite the disapproval of many of the white community, Patricia began to teach in the local African schools. Indeed, one of her pupils at that time, is the current Higher Commissioner for Zambia in Britain.

Her experiences in Zambia had a deep influence on Patricia. On returning to the UK, when Richard became vicar of Kennington, she herself embarked on a political career. Joining the Labour Party, she won a seat on Lambeth Council amongst a group which included Tony Banks and Ken Livingstone. She served for seven years chairing committees including Housing Management. She also stood for parliament for the Marylebone seat in 1974 against Kenneth now Lord Baker.

At this time, the anti-apartheid movement was moving up a gear and Patricia, with her direct African experiences, began to be very active. She organised activities, often deeply unpopular at the time, as part of the campaign to isolate South Africa by targeting South African goods in supermarkets and other forms of protest. She was elected to the National Executive of the Anti-Apartheid movement. She has continued this interest, not least in promoting diversity and equality in all organisations. During a demonstration at Downing Street, at a time when ordinary members of the public were allowed to walk into that street and express their democratic opinions, Patricia was arrested, wrongly as it happened, for threatening behaviour with a banner involving the Prime Minister of the day, Mr Heath. She was put into a cell in Bow Street but subsequently her conviction was overturned on appeal where she was defended by the eminent barrister Dingle Foot, QC who offered his services. Not long after she herself was appointed a magistrate but her experience in the cells made her acutely aware of the loneliness and helplessness many must feel and she has ever since taken a keen interest in the welfare of prisoners.

But the demands of a young family, and the need to develop her career, took her away from electoral politics and back to teaching. She had a number of posts in Camberwell and other parts of South London before joining Pimlico School, first as a temporary teacher and finally as Head of the 6th Form where, given its location near to Parliament, she oversaw the education of the children of politicians on all sides as well as the local community. At the same time, remarkably, she managed to find time to complete a PhD at King's College on the work of Charlotte Yonge, the prodigious 19th century novelist and close associate of John Keble, but also the Pre-Raphaelites; a measure of the task is that Charlotte Yonge wrote over 100 novels, all of whom Patricia was obliged to read and analyse.

One of the most remarkable features of Patricia Moberly, as those of us who know her well can testify, is her boundless energy and restless interest in everything. An area which increasingly occupied her interest outside teaching was health, especially medical and health ethics. She was one of the first people to serve on the Ethics Committee of a London Teaching Hospital and she devised the original complaints procedures at St Thomas' which has subsequently been adopted as a model by health authorities. She also gave evidence at the Royal College of Physicians inquiry into the role of patients in medical research.

She also began to take up roles on various health authorities and these include being the first chairman of West Lambeth Community Health Council, Governor of United Medical and Dental School and of the Royal Bethlehem and Maudsley Hospital and a lay member of the General Medical Council. In December 1997 she was appointed a non-executive director of Guys and St Thomas' NHS Trust, and having relinquished her teaching career by this time, she became Chairman in 1999. In 2004 she led the hospital to become one of the first Foundation Trusts in the UK and she has now been ten years in the chair, overseeing the introduction of great innovation and best practice at this top-rated hospital. In this capacity, she has been a powerful supporter of the university which, of course, is one of the main providers of nursing and health education at the Trust.

Patricia Moberly is a Justice of the Peace and is very active in local regeneration activities, including the Waterloo Project. In all she does, the interest of the community and all of those who live in it, are paramount.

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