Why we chose an ox

Why did we choose an ox?

Unlike some cities that might be choosing an animal for a sculpture trail, Oxford has an advantage – the settlement was named after the Saxon oxen that crossed the many channels of the river Thames here. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxons called it Oxenaforda, meaning ‘oxen’s shallow river crossing’. Though we thought about many other sculpture ideas, including an Oxford comma (a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’), books and owls or even Headington sharks, we finally came back to the animal that features in the city’s coats of arms and is recognisable from Oxford United’s logo to the Saïd Business School’s Ox outside Oxford Railway station. We felt that the animal that gives its name to our city and our county was a worthy representative of the community we serve here at Sobell House. We work across Oxfordshire, and the ox gives our community its name.

But there is more. Oxen are dependable and strong; we talk about being ‘as strong as an ox’ and they have been relied upon by humans for millennia to help them produce food and carry loads. I know that our incredible staff are dependable and strong, so we can help share the load when things are tough – whether that is in the community, our hospitals or in the hospice itself. The nature of the ox is reflected in its status in Chinese astrology, where those born in the year of the ox are often said to be patient, honest and hardworking. I am privileged to see these qualities in action every day in the amazing care and support we provide to those in Oxfordshire with life-limiting illnesses and their families and loved ones. The ox symbolises our care and strength as well as our community.

Written by Amelia Foster, Charity CEO

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