Jean Elizabeth Reid

(1941 –2017)

Jean was born in Stafford in 1941, where her dad, Ben Fletcher had been sent to work for English Electric as part of the war effort. Jean’s mum, Ivy, and older brother and sister, Howard and Beryl, had joined Ben just in time for Jean’s birth. As the war came to an end in 1945, the family moved back to Preston and to a house in Brook Street. By that time, Jean was ready to go to school and so she was enrolled at St Cuthbert’s School, later transferring to the Fulwood and Cadley School, where she got a scholarship to Balshaw’s Grammar School in Leyland. Jean wasn’t the most academic of pupils, but at Balshaw’s her needlework skills developed and those skills and attention to detail remained part of her life.

Meanwhile, the family were heavily involved in the life of Moor Park Methodist Church, which provided many of their social activities. Jean joined the choir as a teenager and sang duets with her sister Beryl. Having been a Brownie in the church pack, Jean became an assistant Brownie leader and eventually Brown Owl. In 1955 the family moved to a house in Beacon Grove and a couple of years later Jean left school and went to work for the Milk Marketing Board. From there she secured a job with English Electric as a tracer, which made good use of her eye for detail.

The staff from English Electric shared a canteen with those from the British Aerospace works across the road and in June 1966 Jean’s eyes caught sight of Peter Reid, a British Aerospace draughtsman. They soon hit it off and were married at Moor Park Methodist Church in September 1967, with a guard of honour provided by the Brownies and Guides. They set up home in Shire Bank Crescent, where Colette was born and then shortly after moving to Sharoe Green Lane in 1975 Helen was born. Jean had given up work when Colette was born, but she developed a routine with plenty of activities for the children and lots of walking as she’d didn’t drive. Saturdays always involved shopping and a visit to Central Methodist Church for coffee and summer holidays were usually at Butlins. Jean was later to become a coffee shop volunteer and the Saturday morning visits continued with Colette until relatively recently. In 1984 when the Moor Park Church closed Jean and the girls transferred to Fulwood and Jean took on the Brownies at the URC.

Sadly, Peter’s health was not robust and he had two spells in Whittingham Hospital, which was not easy for the family, but Jean was a very practical person and was able to run the house as well as care for Peter. As the girls got older Jean enrolled at Preston College, where she undertook a variety of courses. She became a lunch-time supervisor at the Harris School, helping the children with various activities, including passing on some of her computer skills. It was a shock when Peter died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2000, but with the support of family and friends Jean found the strength to carry on. Beryl’s husband had died seven year before and as Peter had never liked going on holiday, Jean and Beryl went away together to various parts of the country and then abroad to Austria and Switzerland. Jean also took part in the Fulwood exchange with Recklinghausen.

When Jean gave up leading the Brownies she became a leader with the Beaver Scouts and also a valuable member of the Junior Youth Club team, Escape, where she undertook craft activities with the children. Jean also used her skills to make hundreds of greetings cards, which were sold at Fulwood and at Central. It’s a mark of the affection in which Jean was held that with appropriate support she was able to carry on with these activities until almost the end of 2014, even though she’d been diagnosed with dementia. Although she had many friends Jean was quite a private person, but she was proud to be a grandma and would talk about her grandchildren to almost anyone who would listen and show off their photos.

Sadly, Jean’s illness progressed quite rapidly and in September 2015 she moved into Dovedale Court and then later to Sherwood Court for more specialist care. Thankfully, she seems to have been comfortable and reasonably content in both homes, but in many ways her death came as a release from her struggles. It was hard for Jean’s family to watch the effects of her illness and so her funeral on4th February gave us the opportunity to recall other parts of her life and to give thanks for the way she touched the lives of many children.