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Tributes paid to leading light of Lancaster Girlguiding, theatre and hospital who had a heart of gold

Jean Hardy

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved champion of many causes in the Lancaster area including the Girlguides, and a city theatre and hospital.

Jean Hardy, who died on June 2, aged 77, was heavily involved in Girlguiding in Lancaster and the surrounding area.

She was also a driving force behind-the-scenes at the Lancaster Grand Theatre and chair of the Friends of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI).

The Friends of the RLI said she was "a kind and knowledgeable chairman" with "a heart of gold".

Jean was born in the Bradford area and trained in London as a primary school teacher. 

After moving to Lancaster in 1984 she became involved in the Girlguides, running the Guiding unit at Scotforth St Paul's and becoming the district commissioner for Guiding.

She also taught crafts as an adult education teacher and volunteered for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Her daughter Cheryl said Jean "could turn her hand to any kind of crafts", a skill she would use to great effect at the Lancaster Grand.

Jean was involved at the theatre for many years, first in the costume department making and mending costumes, then from 2015 as director of the Lancaster Footlights pantomimes. Her husband Mike was also chair of the Footlights for many years.

Cheryl said: "She loved the theatre and loved the panto and the cast and crew, who were like a big panto family.

"In her own quiet way, mum made a difference, but she never shouted about it."

Jean is pictured below with Cheryl at a Lancaster Grand pantomime.

Jean with her husband Mike.

Jean became chair of the Friends of the RLI in 2009 and was a committee member for 18 years.

At the RLI she set up and managed the WRVS (Women's Royal Voluntary Service) tea bar. 

"Jean has been a great stalwart for the charity and her loss will be greatly felt," said a spokesperson for the Friends.

"Her great commitment to charitable causes throughout her life has seen her involvement with not only the Friends but also WRVS, as it was known when Jean was involved, and the Grand Theatre, Lancaster.

"If you knew Jean you would know that she had a heart of gold and was always committed to doing her best.

"As chair of the Friends she led the committee in supporting patients and staff at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Bay Hospitals Charity and the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, and over the years well over a million pounds has been donated.

"She leaves an incredible legacy.

"We miss you Jean, fly high.

"Sending our love and heartfelt best wishes to Jean's family at this very sad time."

A spokesperson for Bay Hospitals Charity, who raise funds for the RLI and other hospitals run by the Morecambe Bay trust, said: "Jean was such an incredible person and such a great supporter of Bay Hospitals Charity and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

"She will be greatly missed."

A Grand Theatre spokesperson said: "Jean was a beloved member of the Lancaster Grand Theatre family, and her profound impact on our community will be deeply felt. Her dedication to directing, producing, and nurturing our cherished traditional family pantomime, a beloved annual tradition at Lancaster Grand Theatre, was unparalleled.

"For many years, she also led the Lancaster Footlights production committee, playing a pivotal role in shaping the charity organisation.

"Jean's meticulous care as a skilled seamstress ensured the immaculate upkeep of Lancaster Grand Theatre's costume stores. She was known for tirelessly washing, repairing, and returning costumes, embodying her commitment to every production.

"Beyond her professional contributions, Jean was a true community champion, touching the lives of so many.

"On behalf of Lancaster Grand Theatre, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jean and convey our deepest sympathy to her family and friends during this difficult time. There is a Jean-shaped void at Lancaster Grand Theatre that can never be filled."

Jean was a much-loved wife to Mike, mum to Cheryl, mother-in-law to Mark and grandmother to Riley and Kerry.

Her funeral will be held on June 26 at 2.15pm at St Paul’s Parish Church, Scotforth.

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