Jean Hammerton, ex-Mayor of Winchester, died peacefully at her home in Bishop’s Waltham on October 14th, aged 90.

Jean was much-loved and respected for her common-sense and humour, a lady who started her life story with: ‘I was born in Hastings, not long after 1066.’

Growing up during the Second World War, Jean left Bournemouth School for Girls to become a student pathologist at Boscombe Hospital just as the NHS came into being. Almost trained, her medical hopes were stymied by TB, in those days a serious illness involving a year-long hospital stay and 18 months’ outpatient treatment: not the best for a lively 20 year-old. After a summer on Bournemouth beach, selling buckets and spades but unable to return to pathology, Jean found employment in a private clinic.

From then on, Jean moved in medical settings including the old Bishop’s Waltham Surgery where, as receptionist, her office was an ex-cupboard. When the Surgery moved to larger premises in 1979, Jean became Practice Manager. According to Dr Paul Hemming, she had a ‘natural instinct for the way ahead,’ developing not only ‘an efficient organization’ but managing the rapidly enlarging staff, ‘in a warm and friendly atmosphere.’ Ever sympathetic to patients’ needs, Jean solved problems calmly, promptly, positively. After leaving the Surgery in 1993, Jean continued her medical interests as a director of NHS Mid-Hants Primary Care Trust; notably, in Bishop’s Waltham, David Williamson recalled ‘an amazing encourager’ as he initiated Heartstart and First Responders and she served for 17 years as Heartstart’s Chairman. Her commitment to helping people continued with long-running roles as Chairman of the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau and President of Friends in Retirement.

In Winchester, Jean was well-known for her service to local government. During the 1970s, she took her first political steps by becoming a Bishop’s Waltham Parish Councillor, progressing to Chairman in 1986. Finding that the Parish Council had constantly to refer to Winchester City Council, Jean then resolved to stand for District election in 1994. Temporarily manager in a university practice, her request for time off to campaign was met with a horrified: ‘You can have the time off, but you’d better win!’ To which Jean replied, ‘Well, it’s a bit of a joke because I’m standing as an Independent.’ Nevertheless, Jean was popular and trusted in the community so she sailed onto Winchester City Council.

For 10 years, Jean brought her trademark common-sense to bear on many important District issues. She recently explained her political philosophy: ‘Each party was represented amongst the four [local Councillors] and myself, and I thought, we can all get on together with all our different views and manage to agree to things. What a pity everyone else can’t just sort things out in a straightforward manner!’

Jean said that she was ‘utterly, utterly amazed’ to be honoured as Mayor of Winchester in 2003-4. She approached the year, which she described as ‘exceedingly interesting’, with her unassuming blend of tact, practicality and friendliness. Ex-mayor David McLean told me that she still attended every Parish Council meeting. Winchester, we were exceedingly lucky to have the services of Jean Hammerton.

By Trish Simpson-Davis