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Dr Christine Mabey OBE

We are saddened to announce the death of Dr Christine Mabey, who served as College Secretary from 1988-99 and became a Fellow of the College in 1999.

She graduated from Oxford and later completed a PhD on the London Literacy Survey at the Institute for Education, supervised by former Birkbeck Master Baroness (Tessa) Blackstone and Professor Peter Mortimore, who recognised her excellent judgement, competency and dedication to education.

She worked for many years at the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), first in its research department, then on a secondment to a special unit coordinating the ILEA’s response to the threat of its abolition; a threat which, despite her sterling work, was enacted in 1990.

When Christine took the role of College Secretary at Birkbeck, Peter says, she “filled the role with distinction,” while Tessa remembers her as “wonderful to work with, very perceptive of people, passionate about Birkbeck and a great deal of fun.” Both remember her for her popularity with her colleagues and peers, and her conviction in speaking up when something wasn’t right.

She was a dedicated campaigner for the Labour Party, which she was drawn to as a passionate believer in social justice, equality and in particular for the promotion of comprehensive education.

In 1999, Christine was awarded an OBE for services to higher education, and she later became a prominent campaigner for pedestrian safety. She co-founded the Islington branch of the Living Streets Group, which was the first group to successfully lobby for 20 mph speed limits on all residential roads.

Her husband, Robin Mabey, who died in 2017, was a Labour councillor and senior civil servant in the Department for Environment. They lived together for most of their adult lives in Islington, North London. They had three children - Kate, Tom and Lucy - with whom they enjoyed spending time in their garden and at their country house in Norfolk, and two grandchildren, Kiah and Silas.