Sheila McKechnie

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Dame Sheila Marshall McKechnie, DBE (3 May 1948 – 2 January 2004) was a Scottish trade unionist, housing campaigner and consumer activist.

Sheila McKechnie was born in Camelon, Falkirk, in 1948. She read Politics and History at the University of Edinburgh,[1] where she was a friend of future UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. She was a member of the Students' Representative Council, holding the posts of Secretary and 2nd Junior President. After graduation, she took an MA in Industrial Relations from University of Warwick.

After working as a trade union official in the 1970s, during which she was active in the Women's Movement, she became director of the housing and homelessness charity Shelter in 1985.[2]

After ten years in charge, she left to become head of the Consumers' Association, campaigning on a wide range of issues, often using headline-grabbing stunts.[3] In 2001 McKechnie said: "I am a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad and will remain so for the rest of my life. No government would ever feel entirely comfortable with me or the association because we are both fiercely, fiercely independent."[1]

She was made an OBE in 1994 for her work with Shelter, and DBE in 2001 for her work on behalf of consumers. She was chosen as the University of Edinburgh alumnus of the year in 1991.[4] She has been on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation.

McKechnie was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. Following her death in 2004, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation was established to support a new generation of campaigners.[5]

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