A respected lifetime campaigner for racial equality and justice has died after a long struggle with ill-health. 

Althea McLean, 82, of the Watford African Caribbean Association, died on April 6 at Watford General Hospital after an almost six-year battle with illness following a heart attack in 2012.

Althea helped to found the Watford African Caribbean Association in 1976 alongside her husband, Arthur McLean, 84, and others, later becoming a board member and chairwoman. 

The charity provides a range of services to the African and Caribbean community including care facilities for the old, support and information and social gatherings. 

She was for many years the chairwoman of the Watford Racial Equality Council, actively trying to eradicate racial discrimination, and after that she became the chairwoman for the Watford Council for Voluntary Services.

Althea was also a long-term trustee of Watford and Three Rivers Trust.
Chairman for the Watford African Caribbean Association, Clive Saunders, said: “She was a woman who transcended all roles, you couldn’t label her.

“A kind, community spirited person. The organisation was so important to her.”

Althea was born in St Catherine, Jamaica. She moved to Watford before working with the Watford African Caribbean Association in the 70’s. She had six children from a previous marriage, Diane, Maurice, Delroy, Everald, Neal and Richard as well as many grandchildren. Arthur and Althea married in 1987.

Owing to her activities in the community, in 1996 she received an OBE, an honour awarded to an individual for major contributions to business, charity and the public sector. 

Althea remained active until ill-health forced her to retire from community engagement in 2012. 

Despite stepping down, she continued to support the Watford African Caribbean Association and its activities as was its vice president right up to her death. 

In a tribute to Althea, the Watford African Caribbean Association said she was able to “transcend all community divides” and “foster very good relations in Watford”. 

Adding: “She may be gone but her legacy will live on.”

Labour mayoral candidate, Jagtar Singh Dhindsa knew Althea from the Race Equality Council: “I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. She was a true community worker.

“She listened and had the ability to act quickly.”

Althea is survived by her husband Arthur, her children and grandchildren.