AN PRESERVATIONIST with a passion for Oxford's built and natural environment has died aged 102.

Nancie Villiers, who passed away last month, was a long-serving member and then patron of the Oxford Preservation Trust.

She was known for her fierce efforts to protect areas from damaging development, including fighting restlessly to ensure that the Cherwell Valley remained Green Belt .

Mrs Villiers was married to adventurer and photographer Alan Villiers, who served in the Second World War and commanded square-rigged ships for films, including Moby Dick and Billy Budd.

Mrs Villiers was born in Launceston, in Tasmania, on July 29, 1915.

She had two brothers, Harry and Alan, and was raised in Melbourne, Australia.

During her working life Mrs Villiers served an architect’s office in Melbourne to early 1939. She then moved to the UK, where she worked as an assistant editor for John Murray, a London publisher.

After her time in publishing she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1940, after which she became a housewife.

She had originally met her husband, adventurer Alan Villiers, in Melbourne. The pair then met again in London and married in Scotland on December 24, 1940.

The couple had three children: Kit, Katherine and Peter.

When the Second World War came to an end the couple lived in Leafield, a short distance from Witney. During their time in the county they also lived in Davanant Road, Oxford, and finally Lucerne Road in Summertown, where she remained until her death.

With her architectural background, her interests included a passion for the city of Oxford, and in particular its built environment

She was a member of the Oxford Preservation Trust, an organisation which encourages thoughtful development and new design while protecting historic buildings

Debbie Dance of the Oxford Preservation Trust said: “The OPT records show Nancie as a member from 1960 and the secretary of the Central and North Oxford Committee and then a Trustee from 1974 to 1991, though her influence continued long after, of course.”

The River Cherwell, which she lived beside for so long was another passion, and she founded the Summertown Riverside Group to try to preserve its tranquil setting.

Her enthusiasm for the environment led her to vigorously oppose the building of a new football stadium in the Cherwell Valley, and when the Environment Agency proposed to lower the river level permanently by 18ins she launched a petition to defeat the plans.

She fought endlessly to ensure that the whole of the Cherwell Valley right into Oxford remained Green Belt - a ‘green lung’ into the city.

Even late in life she remained a battler. In May 2012, aged 96, she was became an area patron of the OPT for her contributions to North Oxford and the Cherwell Valley.

She attended meetings of former trustees to the last, going to St Cross College in June this year less than a month before she died.

She loved swimming in the Cherwell - despite once having to swim behind a passing punt to avoid a swan which was attacking her.

Mrs Villers is survived by her three children and two grandchildren Georgina and Alan Chtwynd.