DOROTHEA Ridgway, the co-founder of the charity Child Health International, has died.

Mrs Ridgway, 87, from Winchester, leaves one son, Michael Ridgway, a daughter, Penny Ridgway, four grand-children and three great-grand children.

She founded Child Health International (CHI) with her late husband Roy in 1992.

The couple’s youngest son Tony died of cystic fibrosis aged 29 in 1984 and later on a visit to Moscow, Mrs Ridgway decided to visit a hospital there to see how children with CF were managing. She discovered a huge problem.

A lack of understanding of modern treatment methods and provisions meant that children died within the first few months or years of life and many more were not being diagnosed.

Mr and Mrs Ridgway set out to help change the plight of the children in Moscow and with their charity raised funds to run a project that lasted several years and transformed the treatment of children with CF throughout Russia. The charity is still going strong today.

Mrs Ridgway was born on July 14, 1921 and was the youngest of three children. She had a German mother and an English father who fought in the First World War.

Mrs Ridgway was brought up in Surrey and as a child she had St. Vitus’ Dance which meant that she had to lie on her back for a whole year.

Just before she was to take Matriculation, the equivalent of O-levels, she applied herself over a short period and got high grades.

She went to Wimbledon School of Art and became an excellent painter of landscapes. She was also a very good portrait painter.

In 1947, she met her future husband Roy Ridgway at an evening out arranged by a mutual friend.

Five weeks later, they married at a register office in London and went to Paris for their honeymoon.

Mr Ridgway ran a successful PR company in London and the family lived in north London for several years before moving to a house outside Sparsholt, near Winchester, in 1967.

At the age of 46, Mrs Ridgway completed a teacher training course at King Alfred’s College, now the University of Winchester, and this led to her teaching art at Rookwood school in Andover.

In the early 1990’s the couple moved to St. Peter Street, in central Winchester.

When Mr Ridgway died in 2000 and the source of funding from the EU dried up, it looked like CHI would fold.

However, Mrs Ridgway worked hard to keep it going.

She was always on the look-out for new sources of funds.

Her son, Michael, said Mrs Ridgway was known for her steely determination to get things done.

“Nonsense” was the word she would so frequently use when anyone suggested that something was too difficult to accomplish. Throughout her marriage of 53 years, she dedicated her life to her beloved husband Roy, enabling them to achieve so much as a couple, and at the same time brought up the family.

She also managed to continue with her painting and to pursue her search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.