Locally known as the ‘People’s champion’ George Parish was the longest serving Labour councillor on Cherwell District Council serving the Ruscote estate as district councillor for more than 20 years, and was last re-elected as Ruscote ward district councillor in 2010. He worked at Kraft Foods for more than 30 years and was the Transport and General Workers shop steward.
A former Banbury Town Mayor and chairman of Cherwell District Council, one of his proudest achievements was to secure the future of the Horton as a fully operational district general hospital in the face of downgrading proposals that would have taken most major medical services to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. George led a three-year battle (between 2006 and 2008) as chairman of the Save the Horton campaign that culminated in a full inquiry by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which found Banbury was too far distant to risk emergencies being transported the 25 miles to Oxford.
George passed away at a care home in Oxford on Saturday 26 November 2016.
Tributes have started coming in.
“Everyone in Banbury will be feeling an immense sense of loss at George Parish’s passing. Not least his family and I offer them my deepest condolences at this time.
For me personally, this loss is particularly acute. Before I really knew anything about politics he was a family friend having worked at General Foods with my Nan. And I remember how much of a comfort he was when he attended her funeral nine years ago.
For all of the work George did with colleagues from across the political spectrum, and those who did not class themselves as political, George was a committed Labour man and our party has lost a much-loved friend as well as one of the best examples I can think of, of a dedicated local politician delivering their values to the benefit of their community. He loved the Ruscote ward, which he lived in and represented for so many years.
He is rightly remembered as the man who saved the Horton Hospital. For this, the town and wider area, took him to their hearts. This was not difficult. His innate warmth and jovial character meant that he was, almost literally, friends with everyone he encountered. One of my favourite stories that he told me was how it regularly took him 3 hours to complete his shopping because of all the people who wanted to talk to him.
He was, quite simply, Mr Horton Hospital. And we will miss him terribly. Thanks George. Rest In Peace”
“George was an inspiration to me and I try to do my best to follow his example in my political life.”
“My thoughts are with Suzanne and George’s family at this awful time, but George can now rest in peace.
“George was a man whose honesty shone through in a blaze; other politicians, local and national, have a lot to learn from a man like George – no obfuscation for him!
“Whether in power, as a Member of the ruling group on Cherwell District Council between 1995 and 1999, or as Chairman of the District Council, or as leader of the Horton campaign, George was always his own man, and utterly charming in all his dealings with people, whether they were hostile or (as in most cases) working with and for him.
“George was a lifelong and true socialist who came to politics through his union work. This spirit bred in him his hatred of oppression in all its’ forms, and led to his avoidance of dogma and cant.
“George made Banbury a better place by being the unflappable, positive person he was. He will be sorely missed.”