Described as one of the most memorable women of the twentieth century Jennie Lee from Lochgelly Fife born in 1904 made a massive impact in politics and on social policy across the United Kingdom and certainly one of her greatest achievements, the Open University is today stronger than ever some 27 years after her death.
Her legacy in that sense is one of educationalist and working class socialist and it was this legacy that was celebrated in Lochgelly on Saturday where people came from across Fife to take part in a day of fun, conversation, writing, song and music, exhibitions and generally having a good time!
Lee who was also noted as the wife of Labour politician and founder of the National Health Service Aneurin Bevan had a varied political career that began in her youth. The Open University note that her upbringing in a Fife coal mining community where her granddad was a trade union official and her father a miner confirmed her interest in socialist politics.
She studied at Edinburgh University and in 1929 was elected Independent Labour MP for North Lanark and was closely associated with the Clydesiders, such as James Maxton and John Wheatley.
This lady from Fife travelled extensively including visits to the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Spain which for the time i.e. the first half of the 20th century was in itself a major accomplishment for a miners daughter from Fife!
She was appointed Arts Minister in 1965 in the Wilson Government and was tasked with setting up the Open University (1969) which Wilson himself regarded as his most lasting legacy to the country.
Congratulations to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee and staff at Fife Council for hosting this event which was a massive success and hopefully this amazing lady from Fife will inspire many more to get involved in education, politics and civic society.
You can check out the Open University at www.open.ac.uk and there are lots of courses and opportunities at the WEA in Fife and Fife Council Centres.
Learning is for life!