RIGHT-TO-DIE campaigner Jean Davies, who has passed away aged 86 after starving herself to death, used her harrowing last days to highlight the absence of assisted dying legislation in the UK.

After suffering from a number of chronic health conditions for many years, Mrs Davies’ health deteriorated from November last year.

Following another episode of sudden ill-health at the end of August, she took the decision to end her life by stopping eating and, eventually, stopping drinking. She died on October 1.

A life member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, she used her ordeal as an opportunity to campaign for the cause.

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Mrs Davies – nee Roderick – was born on April 24, 1928, the only daughter of Jack and Edith, whose families were neighbours in Rossington, Yorkshire.

After attending grammar school in Leeds, she was accepted by Oxford University’s Somerville College in 1947, to study PPE (politics, philosophy and economics).

She made lifelong friends there and met and married Owen Davies, a Rhodes scholar and physicist from New Zealand.

Because she did not get permission from Somerville to marry in 1948, she was prevented from returning to the college after her first year as a student.

The couple moved to London in 1950 where their four children were born and brought up. After the youngest reached school age, Mrs Davies enrolled as a teacher, teaching history and maths at secondary school level.

In 1971, the family moved to Cardiff and Mrs Davies worked as a supply teacher before finding a permanent post at Howardian School, Cardiff.

After Mr Davies died of a heart attack, Mrs Davies continued to work for a further two years before taking early retirement in 1984.

She moved to South Oxford in 1984 and spent the last 30 years of her life in the city.

Mrs Davies was a member of the British Humanist Association and active in the Oxford Pensioners’ Forum and Oxford Pensioners’ Action Group, where she served as chairman for a time.

Mrs Davies became a life member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (more recently renamed Dignity in Dying) in 1976 and was at the founding of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, in Oxford, in 1980.

There she met journalist and author Ludovic Kennedy and, in 1984, became the Newsletter Editor of the federation, a post she held for four years.

Then, after being the vice-president, Mrs Davies served as the federation’s president in 1990, for two years.

Working with the federation, Mrs Davies travelled the world and was a great influence in the establishment of Right-to-Die Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

Closer to home, she was an active member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society in this country.

She wrote a book called Choice in Dying which had a foreword by Dirk Bogarde, and was published in 1997.

The same year Mrs Davies married Peter Wright and they travelled widely during the first years of their happy marriage. He died in 2008.

Mrs Davies is survived by her four children, Bronwen, Megan, Simon and Roderick, and two grandchildren.


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