The family of Thornbury councillor Clare Fardell, who died last year, are yet to hold a memorial service as a result of Covid concerns. Here, her daughter Catherine Jessop pays tribute.

Mum passed away in August 2020 after a short illness and it was our hope that we would be able to have a memorial service at St Mary’s in Thornbury, but ongoing Covid concerns have made that impossible. So here instead is a written eulogy, in celebration of a life well lived.

Mum was born in 1938, in a small village near East Kilbride in Scotland. She was the eldest of three, going to school in North Wales with her sister Susan, and then to St Andrews University where she read English Literature – and met dad!

After their marriage, they settled in a flat in Westbury on Trym for a couple of years, before moving to St Arilda’s Cottage in Kington in 1965 where she lived for the rest of her life.

This was the happiest of family homes for me and my three siblings Peter, John and Alice and has been an idyllic setting for many large gatherings over the years. Mum loved a get-together, bringing her infectious enthusiasm to any occasion whether it was a beach picnic, a fundraising dinner or a fancy-dress party! She was a fantastic cook and her recipes for chocolate cake, ginger biscuits and scones are now baked regularly by her nine grandchildren.

Mum was an English teacher at Westwing School in Kington for many years and was passionate about the importance of both education and reading. She was a long-serving governor at both the Castle School and Gillingstool Primary. She was utterly horrified by the recent emphasis placed by the government on complex grammar, believing that school had so much more to offer children of all abilities than a rigid adherence to obscure rules. She was a huge champion of evolving and expressive language and loved going to the theatre.

Mum and dad joined the Liberal Democrat party on its formation in the 1980s and this led to decades of service with Thornbury Town and South Gloucestershire councils. Her goal was simply to make the world a better place, and she championed causes on behalf of both people and the environment, with the restoration of the Town Hall, the twinning of Thornbury with Bockenem in Germany, becoming a Fair Trade town, the creation of the Volunteer Centre, the Over-60’s Tea Room, Thornbury in Bloom, and the Beech House Nursing Home, among her many undertakings.

Former Cabinet Minister Sir Steve Webb said: “Clare was indefatigable. She led by example, and got a huge amount done, partly because people didn’t feel they could stop while Clare was still going! So many people’s lives have been enriched by knowing her, including mine.”

She was a keen supporter of all things musical, singing in several Thornbury choirs and was very involved in the early days of the Thornbury Arts Festival. In later years, (accompanied by dad on the piano) she would entertain the residents of Beech House with a selection of old-time favourites.

Mum was a great believer in the power of the written word. One of the things our family enjoyed most was regularly receiving her vividly descriptive and highly entertaining letters. So, although it is sad that circumstances prevent a big memorial service, it is perhaps appropriate that this tribute should be in written form.

She was pragmatic about dying, and grateful that she was able to spend her last months at home with dad, visited by family and friends in their beautiful garden. We all miss her very much.