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Special ceremony held for former student of college
RUSKIN College in Oxford has honoured one of its former students who went on to became a well-known disability campaigner.
At a ceremony at the Headington college yesterday, a room was named after Lord Ashley, who died last year aged 89.
All three of the Labour peer’s daughters and two of his grandchildren visited the continuing education college to attend the naming ceremony.
Prof Audrey Mullender, principal of Ruskin College, said: “I know that this will inspire our students to seek to emulate Lord Ashley’s energy, his vision and his unswerving socialist commitment to fighting injustice.
“His whole life was spent campaigning, initially through the trade union movement and then in the lower and upper houses of Parliament.
“He is one of the very many people whose lives were completely changed by Ruskin College.
“He came from a very disadvantaged background and was recommended to come here.
“He is a wonderful role model – just because you don’t have advantages early in life doesn’t mean you cannot achieve.”
Prof Mullender retired on Friday and the naming ceremony was her last official engagement as principal after nearly 10 years.
Jack Ashley left school at the age of 14 and went to work in the chemical process industry. He went on to attend Ruskin for two years on a trade union scholarship and he received a Diploma in Economics and Political Science in 1948.
This education enabled him to go on to Cambridge University where, as well as gaining his degree, he became President of the Cambridge Union in 1951.
He then went on to work as a researcher, radio producer for the BBC Home Service and a producer on Panorama and Monitor before being elected as an MP for Stoke-on-Trent South. After nearly 30 years in Parliament he was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.
He had become profoundly deaf at the age of 45 after complications from a routine ear operation and went on the champion the cause of the deaf, blind and disabled, including those disabled by thalidomide, winning cross-party support.
The Jack Ashley Room in Stoke House will be used for trade union education.
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