Jane “Mrs Blackberry” Blackledge

by John Dixon

Jane was born in Eccles, Manchester, and lived there with her two siblings. She attended primary school in Eccles then Blackwell School in Windermere before moving on to Huyton College in Liverpool.

Jane’s education did not finish there; she went on to study speech therapy in London, leading to a career that lasted her whole working life.

After qualifying as a speech therapist Jane moved back to the Lakes, where she married in 1969, “with Jane wearing a silver minidress paired with silver ankle boots and matching silver knickers – photos of their swinging 60s wedding made the local newspaper”.

This information came from her children Davidica (born in 1969), Anna (born in 1973) and Jessica (born in 1977), who all came along after Jane and her husband settled in Tewkesbury.

It was her career as a speech therapist that earned Jane the epithet Mrs Blackberry”. When the news of her quite sudden death emerged, I learned from so many local people that she had helped their children – some of whom, only initially, found pronouncing her real name difficult!

We also learned recently that her friendship with Cheltenham historian, Jill Waller, led them to begin research on Tewkesbury Park [in whose former grounds Jane lived] and Walton Spa. For anyone who wishes to contribute to their research for a future bulletin, they have done the spadework, so please contact me.

Jane volunteered at THS meetings when we needed someone to sell our publications. In 2019 Jane suffered a stroke, from which she made a remarkable recovery. Although her speech remained affected, her life got back to relative normality, until she recently became unwell. It was at our AGM this year when she announced her need to retire – little did we know then, she was very ill.

Hers was a funeral at which one regretted not knowing Jane for so much longer. We are fortunate that all three of her daughters and their families still live locally.

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