1:00pm Saturday 24th March 2012
By Debbie Waite
MORE than 30 years after he appeared in the Oxford Mail as a three-year-old placard–waving protestor, Henry MacKeith says he is proud to have been a child radical.
Mr MacKeith, now 36, featured in the Mail earlier this month, highlighting a new exhibition on Oxfordshire’s Radical Past and Present.
We asked if anyone knew his whereabouts and his proud dad Bill got in touch.
Now living in Tring, Herts, and a painter, Henry was just three and living with his parents in Botley when he became the unwitting, but very memorable poster boy of the campaign to save the city’s South Oxford children’s nursery.
He said: “I was very proud to hear I was part of the exhibition on Oxfordshire’s history of protest.
“Of course I can’t really remember much about that picture being taken, or about the six weeks that my mum and the other mums occupied the nursery to stop it being closed, but I do feel very proud that I was involved, and my fiancee Jill Moore, who I am marrying today, thought I looked very sweet!”
Henry was just part of the media maelstrom which blew up when a band of incensed local parents launched a campaign to save the South Oxford Nursery in 1978.
Oxfordshire County Council had proposed a reduction in nursery places and the closure of the nursery.
For many, including Henry’s mum, Ag MacKeith, it was their first collective action.
Mrs Mackeith, who still lives in Botley and is now 65, said: “Henry’s placard was made from an old box by a neighbour of mine. We just wanted to fight the plans and do all we could.”
And in July 1979, a delegation met the chairman of the education committee to discuss reopening the nurseries.
One after another, in Didcot, Headington, Banbury and Botley, the county’s nurseries were saved.
Henry MacKeith has since taken part in national actions on climate change and against borders. He said: “Both my parents have been politically active and that has rubbed off on me.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group