Obituary: Maureen Rowbotham

Date published: 03 August 2016

Maureen Rowbotham died painlessly and peacefully at home with both of her daughters beside her in the early hours of Saturday morning (30 July).

She had pulmonary fibrosis, heart failure and had been oxygen dependent and house bound for over 12 months. 

Maureen was a Labour Party councillor for North Middleton for over a decade and lived in Boarshaw for all of her life.

She went to Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school, Middleton, before studying Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University at the age of 56. She was a community worker and previously a cook at Petrus, in Rochdale, and had also been a member of the Labour Party for 37 years.

Maureen stood as Labour councillor for 12 years but lost the party’s vote in her last local election campaign in 2012. She instead ran independently and contributed to a combined 33% decline in votes for Labour and the Conservatives that year, but narrowly lost out in her campaign.

Daughter Sara, a Labour councillor for North Middleton herself, paid a proud and heartfelt tribute to her mum: “She was a true socialist which meant that she cared about everybody and believed that we were all born as equals. She always fought for people who were worse off and helped people who were homeless or had drug and alcohol issues. She was caring, kind and friendly.

“She was a feminist, a socialist and always fought for the underdog. People had real respect for her and that’s why they voted for her.

“My mum was really great, so many people had so much respect for what she did. She was really strong and brave and never moaned even though she was really poorly.

“She always wanted me and my sister to have a better life than her and there were times when she really didn’t have any money, but she made it possible for us."

Maureen was made an Alderman of the borough just last week (Tuesday 26 July), and Sara explained how much that meant to her mum: “She was absolutely made up.

"It was like a vindication for her, especially after people had treated her badly before. It was a recognition for all of her hard work and dedication."

Sara added: “She was a political inspiration for me, Donna, Eric Noi and many others. She taught younger people in a way to be understanding and share her socialist values – that’s her legacy.”

Donna Williams, a North Middleton Labour councillor and family friend, paid tribute to Maureen: “I’ve known Maureen for about 15 years through the Labour Party.

"She was the strongest woman that I have ever met in my life. She was my mentor and inspiration; she was so kind. She changed people’s lives and gave them hope. She cared about local issues and she fought for Middleton. She was the voice of reason and really strong-willed.

“Everyone knew Maureen. When I was out campaigning for my election, everyone knew who she was and what she did as a local councillor. She was my guide and the reason I became a Labour councillor.

“She was amazing and people associated her name with justice and getting things done.

"She was so active in the local community and was an amazing councillor. That’s why people voted for her on her own. She had the answer for everything.”

Maureen was one of five sisters and leaves behind daughters Kath and Sara.

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