Angela Oakes was widely known in the industry as a champion of female PR professionals.
In 2015, as joint president of Women in PR alongside Susan Hardwick, Oakes co-founded Global Women in PR, the international not-for-profit networking organisation linking groups of women working in the comms industry.
Her career in PR started at agencies Hill & Knowlton and The Grayling Company before she went on to launch two PR agencies herself: consumer and b2b shop Oakes Bacot, in the 1990s, and later the boutique London-based consumer specialist Treehouse PR.
In a statement issued yesterday afternoon (28 March), GWPR said: “It is with very great sadness that we have to report that our co-founder and joint president Angela Oakes passed away this morning following a very short illness sadly linked to her battle with cancer.
“As many of you will know, Angela believed passionately in supporting the next generation of women in our industry; helping them to reach their full potential and fighting for there to be more women in senior roles to create balance in an industry populated by women.
“Supporting, connecting and championing was the mantra on which GWPR was founded and it was this that led to two of the key initiatives driven by Angela as a very important part of GWPR’s work – the Annual Index, designed to track the changes for women working in the industry, and Empower – the only global cross-border mentoring programme for mid-career women and just about to enter into its second year.
“Angela had an extremely successful career in PR running her own London-based agency for more than 25 years, specialising in global brand communication, and was also past president of WPR UK. Seven years ago as her legacy to the PR industry she co-founded, with Sue Hardwick, the not-for-profit networking organisation Global Women in PR. Angela was passionate about campaigning against the widely reported lack of women in the boardroom and other major issues directly affecting women working in the PR industry today. As a result of her dedication and hard work, she leaves a lasting legacy in driving change for women and will be sadly missed by her many friends and colleagues.
“Angela leaves behind her husband Roy and their two sons, Robert and Oliver. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”
Hardwick said: “I am deeply saddened to lose my partner and close friend of more than 20 years. We worked together as co-presidents to revive WPR UK some 11 years ago and, having handed it onto a new president in 2015, we then turned our focus to creating a global network to champion women in our industry, building on the strengths and blueprint of WPR UK.
“We did not know if the idea would work but, with the incredible support from industry leaders, ICCO and the PRCA, we launched and now have GWPR networking groups around the world working together to drive change. I will miss my friend more than words can say but I am determined that the work Angela cared so passionately about will continue and that her legacy will not be forgotten.”
Cornelia Kunze, chair of the GWPR International Board, commented: “Angela was such a role model for me and our national group presidents in so many ways. She was the kindest and most empathetic person, and she was always straightforward, determined and never lacking the courage to fight for what she believed in. I will miss her greatly, her humour, her passion and her friendship.”