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COMMUNITY Life of local campaigner, Jan Barron, to be celebrated in community with new award

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Jan Barron, 1944—2019

Life of local campaigner, Jan Barron, is to be celebrated in the community with a new award that is to be given to an organisation that has contributed to a local public cause or a person who has contributed to a local public cause.

Jan who lost her life after a short but brave fight against cancer in November 2019, was an active campaigner in Pevensey Bay for local public causes

Jan was born in St Austell, Cornwall.

From the 70’s right through to the early 90’s she worked at the BBC as a production assistant. She worked on a number of well known programmes, including the Onedin Line, Sorry, with Ronnie Corbett and several other comedies, including one off shows for Only Fools and Horses and Last of the Summer Wine.

After her time with the BBC she worked in administration for Cellnet, that became O2. Her most recent paid job was in a civilian role, working with Sussex police, until she retired 9 years ago.

Her life changed when she met her soulmate Peter in the August of 1988 when they were both studying astrology at a summer school.  The way in which they both talked about the time was as if the meeting was written in the stars. Peter is a musician and writer and there are many references to the stars in his writing. Sometimes when he wrote a song and played his work to Jan, she would say “is that one about me?”

This was a whirlwind romance and they moved in together very quickly, settling at Eton Wick just outside Windsor. In 1999 they moved to Pevensey Bay, their life together they said was “like being on holiday every day”.  They married in 2004, and continued to share many of the same interests. They both had a love of music, art and the theatre and enjoyed trips to London to shows and art galleries. Jan was quite a private person and happy within the company of her close friends and family, she made everyone feel welcome and she was famous for her home made coffee cake.

Jan took a very active interest in art and became a member of a number of local art clubs. She was also involved in the organisation of a number of art events. Some of her paintings were sold in local shops and a series of her paintings were utilised by the Pevensey Bay Journal.

Jan worked in an original way, studying specific artists seeking specific locations and then adding original flare and personal perspective, Amongst her most successful artwork was a series of pen and ink illustrations that came from her study of Ptolemy Dean, the British architect, illustrator and television presenter. Her study of the Bay Hotel [2018] in Pevensey Bay is an exquisite example of her work with those blobs of wash bushes and fine line work.

She also took up a number of key roles for the local Parish Pump magazine, initially as the editor and then for the last five years of her life, as the advertising and distribution manager.

She had a sharp mind and was invited to become a member of Mensa in the mid 80’s which made her proud. The invitation was something she would wave at husband Peter, with a grin.

She did not just have a sharp mind, she saw a wider social context with what she said and did. Her views were strong, vibrant, specific. She spoke in a way in which she was able to encapsulate her view with a single phrase. A big tweeter, she would point out with pride when one of her comments on a famous twitter feed, from someone like Ricky Gervais or Steven Fry, was liked by them.

Jan had strong views on animal welfare and 40 years ago she became a vegetarian and just a couple of years ago she became a vegan. She supported Hugletts Farm animal sanctuary where she sponsored a calf called Nipper Jackson and a sheep called Harold Pearce. Jan particularly loved her cats, which she had throughout her life.  She initially had Stripey back in the 70’s and went on to have Henry and Bumble, followed by Alice and Mabel and currently there’s Bertie and Molly. She had a real understanding with animals, she seemed to be able to find qualities in animals, especially with cats, that are impossible to find in human beings.

Her strength of view was also communicated in subjects like the European Union. She was an articulate remainer.

Her passion and articulacy was also seen in the last year of her life with her dedication to the cause of the local community library that opened, being both a campaigtner for the cause and a volunteer.

Jan had a passion as a local campaigner, but also a deep sense of the importance of the public sector and public services, a spirit that no doubt extended back beyond her work for the BBC in the seventies.

Amongst her last statements was a defence of the NHS on Facebook and praise for the food from her hospital bed.

In the last few weeks of her life she sent Peter home from her hospital bed with an insistence that he return with her special mug, with the European flag, so that she could drink from her own mug.

Her bravery and courage showed in the final six weeks of her life, when her cancer had been diagnosed. Her intelligence and articulacy were there to the end with what she said on social media.

Jan was acutely kind in many circumstances, but certainly she did not suffer fools gladly.

She was very much her own person with her own mind.

Simon Montgomery, editor of the Pevensey Bay Journal said, “what not everyone saw was her empathy. Talking to her over time you could see her empathy and understanding of life. She said to me once, look I found my soulmate, I love him and he loves me and we are life companions, and we respect and love each other, those are the things that matter in life.

He added “we are delighted as a newspaper to be invited to support her husband, Peter, with the promotion of this new annual award in the community”.

Jan will be remembered in many different ways.

The new Jan Barron Award is intended to honour her life in a way in which the value of  local public service will be at the forefront of local community activity every year, to remember her work with the BBC, Sussex Police, local work with the Parish Pump Magazine, arts groups, the community library and the local causes that she supported.

Talking about the new award, Peter, her husband said, “I loved her for 31 years and I love her now, I hope that what the award will do is to see that the kinds of local causes that were so important to Jan are honoured on a yearly basis.

Peter is to announce the recipient or recipients of the first Jan Barron Award, for local public services to the community in 2019, later this month.