JENNIFER Jane Richardson, known to everyone as Jane, was born in Bristol on January 30, 1938 and was just 19 months old when the Second World War broke out.
Over the next six years Bristol was heavily bombed, hence some of her earliest memories consisted of being carried down the garden to the air raid shelter with a dustbin lid over her head.
Jane was not gifted academically but she was a force to be reckoned with on the sports field, excelling at athletics, hockey, netball, tennis and swimming.
She swam from the age of four at Henleaze Swimming Club in Bristol and trained with the Olympic swimming team when they used the venue for their training just before the 1948 London Olympics.
Jane left school at 15 to do a shorthand typing course after which she went to work for the Sun Insurance Company in Bristol.
In April 1955, at the age of 17, Jane attended a local dance where she met her future husband Tony, then aged 20 and a second year chemistry student at Bristol University.
The couple were married in June 1957 and set up home in Clifton, Bristol, where Jane’s wages supported them while Tony completed his PhD in organic chemistry.
In 1959, Tony won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and the couple went to America for a year where Tony carried out research at the University of Berkeley in California.
Jane worked in San Francisco as a shorthand typist and commuted to work every day over the Golden Gate Bridge.
At the time, Britain was only just emerging from the post-war depression and holidays abroad were almost unheard of, so Jane often likened arriving in California, with its wide, palm-lined roads, large shopping malls, pizza parlours, burger joints and diners, as like landing on another planet. The couple returned to the UK in September 1960 and a month later their first child Caroline was born.
The money Jane earned in America had been saved to pay a deposit on their first house in Bristol and while Tony continued doing postgraduate research work at Bristol University the family was swiftly added to with the birth of sons Miles in 1962 and Marcus in 1963.
At the end of 1963 Tony was offered his first post as a lecturer in organic chemistry at Reading University and the family left Bristol, where Jane had lived most of her life, and set up home in Woodley, Reading.
In 1968 Tony accepted another post at King’s College, University of London, and in early 1972 the family moved to Shiplake where Tony could be near a railway station to make his commute easier.
Three months after moving to Badgers Walk the family of five became seven with the birth of twins Annabelle and Adam.
Although Jane was kept fully occupied running a busy household and bringing up five children, she still managed to fit in a series of part-time jobs, working at Shiplake College, Waitrose, Stead & Simpson and from 1990 until her retirement in 2005 at Moss Chemist in Henley (now Henley Pharmacy).
She and Tony found time to regularly play badminton for a local club, where they continued to play well into their fifties and made lifelong friends as a result.
In 1974 Tony took a year’s sabbatical from King’s College and the family temporarily relocated to Palo Alto, California, where Tony worked for a pharmaceutical company based at Stanford University.
The older three children attended local high and junior high schools and the whole family loved the outdoor lifestyle with Jane in her element enjoying swimming every day and playing regular tennis and badminton.
The family returned to the UK in 1975 and two years later Jane and Tony moved to Norman Avenue, Henley, together with Jane’s mother Christine, whom many may remember as a barmaid at the Three Tuns in Henley.
Jane always operated an open house policy where all her children’s friends were welcome and the house became a popular late-night drinking haunt back in the days before 24-hour pub opening!
In fact, even after that her grandchildren kept the tradition going and the only rule was that everyone stayed in the kitchen with the door shut and tidied up afterwards.
In the Eighties, when her eldest children began to fly the nest and Christine was around to look after the twins, Jane was able to travel more with Tony when he went away on lecture tours and conferences which were held in countries as far flung as Japan, Thailand, America and Australia as well as a host of European countries.
In 1988, while in Thailand, they were entertained at the royal palace since one of the Thai princesses was a chemist who hosted a conference that year.
Jane was devastated to lose her husband Tony in 2011 but being surrounded by a loving family helped pull her through this terrible time, although she never really got over losing him.
Always having children and youngsters around her kept Jane young at heart and even though she had been fighting cancer since 2004, it was always the next family wedding, or birth, that kept her going.
She managed to earn the utmost respect of a whole new generation of youngsters at her granddaughter’s hen night when she managed to down a Jägerbomb followed by a tequila (including the worm!).
Her fun-loving, warm personality and genuine interest in people meant she was always popular and well-liked. Her spirit remained positive and upbeat right up to the end, always treating her illness as a mere inconvenience and never letting it get her down.
Despite her health problems, Jane kept quite well and had a good quality of life right up until a month before she died. She still drove to Essex every week to visit her daughter Annabelle, where she would spend a couple of days, and her last visit was just a few days before she was admitted to hospital for the last time.
Jane died peacefully on December 6 at the Sue Ryder hospice, Nettlebed, where she was cared for so beautifully during her last few days.
She knew the end was near and faced it bravely and without fear, telling everyone she was grateful for the charmed life she had led with a happy marriage and a close, loving family.
Her funeral was held on December 16 and attended by more than 100 people, including dozens of friends of her children and grandchildren whom she had welcomed into her home over the years and who had never forgotten her.