A LABOUR Party campaigner and former chair of the Oxfordshire Area Health Authority has died aged 88.

Lady Margaret McCarthy, who lived in Oxford all her life, devoted much of her energy to political campaigning and the city’s health service.

The former Oxford city councillor, who died on May Day, also served as the director of Oxfordshire charity the Guideposts Trust.

She was married to the late Lord Bill McCarthy, the Labour politician who was a fellow of Nuffield College and Templeton College, Oxford.

The pair lived together in Headington.

Lady McCarthy was born on September 28, 1932. She grew up with the Labour Party in her blood and said she never considered supporting any other party.

Her father worked in the transport department at Morris Motors and her mother was the domiciliary midwife for the Headington area.

Lady McCarthy went to Milham Ford School. After that, she held a number of odd jobs before being accepted to Ruskin College where she read economics and political science.

At Ruskin College she met Bill McCarthy, who would later become one of the country’s leading industrial relations experts.

He was made Lord McCarthy in 1976 by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

They married in 1956, and the pair created a formidable political and cultural partnership.

After leaving Ruskin, Lady McCarthy did not know what she wanted to do - but quickly became involved with the Labour party and hospital management.

For more than four decades she held roles in Oxford Labour Party, was an active canvasser and organizer on its behalf, and served as a city councillor for the Blackbird Leys ward.

She held strong views on the ‘bad press’ received by the area.

Lady McCarthy served as chairwoman of Oxfordshire Area Health Authority, was a fellow of the King’s Fund, and from 1994 to 2007 was a director of the Guideposts Trust, an organisation focused on social work activities for the elderly and disabled.

A bibliophile and theatre-lover, Lady McCarthy, together with Lord McCarthy, was a passionate supporter of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Oxford Playhouse.

Lady McCarthy died on May 1 at St Luke’s Hospital, Oxford.

Staff at the hospital had also nursed her late husband.

Lady McCarthy had no children.

She is survived by her godchildren Karen, Ben and Patrick and will be remembered by her many friends.