JEAN THOMPSON - 1920-2014

Jean Thompson

Those of us who knew Jean, in her nearly forty years in Winsham, will deeply miss her. She was an active, enthusiastic woman who joined in many village events and cheerfully encouraged others. She was the daughter of a Methodist minister and consequently moved several times to where her father was placed, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Guernsey. In fact her father presided at the service to welcome back the children, who had been sent to England to safety, when they returned to the Channel Islands after the Liberation.

Her husband Jack had served in the army, in a non-combatant role, mostly in North Africa and Palestine. When peace came they found themselves attending the same church and Jack persuaded Jean to help him run the Boys' Brigade. This was the beginning of a life-time of working together with children.

Children's homes had previously been large, rather impersonal, institutions but were changing to smaller, family-type houses with a married couple as mother and father. Jean and Jack were perfectly suited to this role. Their "homes" were warm and busy places where every individual child was loved and respected. Jean and Jack took the children on outings and holidays and, somewhat against regulations, allowed them to keep animals. They had dogs, cats, pet rats, pigs and a donkey who took part in the local Nativity pageants, kept occupied by one of the senior boys with a pocketful of bread crusts.

Jean had always loved animals. Her happiest childhood holidays were spent on her uncle's farm near Yetminster. There she learned to milk cows, make cheese, help with the harvest and take care of the huge shire horses - later even driving a tractor. Jean often said that if you saw the TV programme "Wartime Farm" you would know exactly what it was like.

After retiring from the children's homes (reluctantly), Jean and Jack looked around for something to keep them busy. In Winsham they had a large garden and Jean was proud to say that in most years she never had to buy shop vegetables, even taking some to the W.I. market in Chard. Jean and Jack drove many miles doing the Meals On Wheels service. They both took part in Penny's pantomimes and Stella's plays. They were staunch Liberal Democrats and opened their house as a Party committee room. Jean will also be remembered as a long-serving Secretary to Winsham W.I. Together they had, as Jean often said, thirty years' happy retirement. It was a great blow when Jack died and Jean loved to tell visitors about their years together, showing her photographs and recalling their long and close relationship. "We were lucky" she used to say. As fondly as she remembered Jack, we shall remember her.



This tribute  first  appeared in the Joint Parishes Magazine in January,2015.