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Marita Harper formidable Soroptimist, Leader of the Campaign against Obscene Publications, founder member of Swindon Club and Regional President 1965

We are sad to note the death of Marita Harper at the age of 95.  She was one of the original founder members of our Club.  We were delighted that she came to our 50th anniversary celebration in 2010. Another of our founder members Jeanne Perons described her thus:  My memories of Marita are that she was an excellent far-seeing President both at Club and at Region, or Divisional Union as it then was. We felt that she should have become National President, but family matters intervened and she left Swindon.  I know that Shirley Mathias kept in touch and used to give me news of her.  The highlight of her presidency was when she led the campaign against Obscene Publications.  She contacted Francis Noel Baker, our MP, local church leaders, the Press and the Standing Conference of Women’s Organisations which then existed in Swindon, and representatives of the Newspaper Retailers Association.  A joint statement was issued to the Press.  We members were asked to go round the newspaper sellers and assess where obscene mags were being displayed and how accessible they were to youngsters. I remember that Shirley was asked to go into the recently opened sex shop.  Marita appeared on television to explain the need for the change in the law.  Within a year of the campaign being started and with the support of women’s organisations countrywide, the Obscene Publications Bill became law, whereby it became an offence not only to sell obscene articles but also to possess them for the purpose of sale. A victory for SI Swindon.