Dame Sarah Anne Lees DBE (née Buckley; 1842 – 14 April 1935) was an English politician and civic activist. She became the first female Mayor of Oldham on 9 November 1910, only the second woman in England to hold such a position. She was also the first woman councillor ever elected in Lancashire.
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Born in November 1842 as Sarah Buckley, she married Charles Edward Lees, JP, on 30 July 1874 in Oldham, Lancashire. Lees was the first woman to sit on Oldham's Town Council, representing the Hollinwood Ward, after the Qualification of Women Act 1907 was passed by Parliament. Already in her 60s, Sarah Lees was named the first woman Freeman of the Borough of Oldham in November 1909. She became Mayor of Oldham the following year, only the second woman to be installed with that title in the United Kingdom.
Dame Sarah opened "The Nook" Convalescent Hospital, Greenfield on 28 July 1927 which was bequested by the late Mr H.L. Hargraves, attended by The Mayor of Oldham, Alderman Samuel Frith, J.P. Dr Thomas Fawsitt, Chairman of the proceedings (Lees and Fawsitt ward) Oldham Royal Infirmary. With the sum of £13,296 the foundation stone was laid on 23 April 1870 and the building was actually opened on 20 September 1872, originally to be opened by Florence Nightingale, who was unable to do so due to illness. The original number of beds were 24, but they increased to 150. In 1926, 5,206 new out patients applied for treatment. 5349 accidents were admitted.1,402 for radiography, 25,256 attendances for in massage and electro-therapeutic departments.
Other positions held
- President of the Oldham Royal Infirmary
- Member, Court of University of Manchester
- Chairman, Oldham Branch of the League of Nations
- Awarded an honorary LLD by University of Manchester in July 1914.
- Created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 25 August 1917 in recognition of her services during World War I.
She died in Oldham on 14 April 1935, aged 92.
Dame Sarah Lees Memorial, established in 1937, at the National Recording Project, Oldham was designed and made by Williams Hargreaves Whitehead, a local artist and sculptor.
- Staff (15 April 1935). "Dame Sarah Lees". The Times. London, England. p. 16 – via The Times Digital Archive 1785—2008.