ANN Spokes Symonds, a former Lord Mayor of Oxford, who has died aged 94, spent her life as a councillor and as a champion for the elderly.

She was a Conservative city councillor for 38 years, a county councillor for 11 years and organising secretary of Oxford Age Concern for 24 years.

Her election leaflets proclaimed that she had a “reputation for getting things done”.

She was born Ann Spokes in November 1925 while her mother Lilla was visiting her parents in Birmingham.

Her career as a politician began early at Wychwood School in North Oxford, one of the first in the country to involve pupils in a ‘mock parliament’ as part of the curriculum.

She later recalled: “My maiden speech was about air raid precautions for animals.”

Her schooling was disrupted when the Second World War broke out. She and her brother were among 125 children and 25 mothers from Oxford evacuated to the United States in 1940.

Back in Oxford in 1944, she started studying for her philosophy, politics and economics degree at St Anne’s College, working at the same time as a volunteer for Oxford MP Quintin Hogg, later Lord Hailsham.

She worked as Tory Party organiser at Cambridge from 1949-53 before returning nearer home to a similar position at Abingdon.

She tried unsuccessfully three times to become an MP, tackling two Labour strongholds, North-East Leicester at the 1959 General Election and Brigg in Lincolnshire in 1966 and 1970.

She realised then that her future lay in local politics, where she had already enjoyed considerable success.

She failed in her first two attempts to win a city council seat in the Cowley and Iffley wards, but she succeeded in June 1957 when a by-election was called to fill a vacancy in the Summertown and Wolvercote ward, a seat she held until she retired in 1995.

When local government was reorganised in 1974, she also became county councillor for Wolvercote, which she represented until 1985.

She was Lord Mayor of Oxford in 1976-7 and elected chairman of the county council in 1981.

In 1980, she married Richard Symonds, former United Nations special adviser, adding Symonds to her well-established name.

She was also a key figure in services to the elderly in Oxford, working as full-time organising secretary of the Oxford Council for Social Service, which became Oxford Age Concern.

She was so busy that in 1965, she calculated that she was serving on 45 national and local committees.

In her youth, she played hockey for Oxford Etceteras and for the county team and was a member of Norham Gardens Tennis Club.

She supported many local projects, among them local radio and Oxford’s twin city links with Leiden in Holland and Bonn in Germany, and had a fascination for the unusual, including collecting holiday postcards, studying Oxford street names and wearing offbeat hats.

In retirement, she turned to writing and among her work were books on North Oxford in the Changing Faces local history series.

The funeral service for Mrs Spokes Symonds, whose husband died in 2006, will be held at St Peter’s Church, Wolvercote, on Monday, January 20, at 11am. Donations in her memory are requested for Oxford Preservation Trust, of which she was a vice-president and trustee for more than 30 years.

Those wishing to attend the funeral are asked to contact the church office on 01865 236094 or email