PEOPLE across Bridgwater have been paying tribute to Jan Harvey, who will be remembered as “fun-loving, young at heart and always happy to help”.
Jan, 74, died at St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice last Wednesday after a battle with cancer.
She was well known in the town, notably for her 40-year association with Eastover Primary School and support of Bridgwater Amateur Operatic Society, ACTS, Bridgwater Pantomime Society and the Carnival.
Jan’s granddaughter, Jodie Harvey, said on behalf of the family: “She’d do anything for anyone. She had a colourful personality, and was famous for her pink and blonde hair.
“We’d like to say a massive thank you to the people at St Margaret’s for caring for her over the past five months.
“At one point they had 13 people sitting waiting to see her. She was very popular.”
Jan joined Eastover Primary School as a dinner lady in 1973 when her sons Shaun and Neil were pupils there.
Last year, she celebrated 40 years' association with the school.
Deputy head teacher Beverly Alcock said: “Though Jan was officially employed as a lunchtime supervisor she became an invaluable and ubiquitous member of staff.
“She was a lot of things to a lot of people, and above all she was a great friend who was always ready with a cup of tea and an endless supply of biscuits.
“Life was never dull with Jan around, and her zest for life was infectious and inspiring, as was her wardrobe.
“Our love and thoughts are with her family at this time.”
Jan was a keen supporter of the amateur operatic society and often helped out with refreshments.
Kim Dodden, a fellow member of the society and a friend, said: “Jan was fun-loving, young at heart and always happy to help.
“She must have made a cup of tea for everyone in Bridgwater at least once.
“She was great to work with and loved by everybody, and she received the Bridgwater Cup for her services to the community in 2009.
“Jan was there for anything you needed her for, with her pink hair and painted nails, and she never said ‘no’.
“I don’t know anyone like her – she was just magic.”
Georgina Edwards, wardrobe mistress for the society, said: “Jan was a very brave and optimistic woman.
“Even when she was poorly she did the Bridgwater 5k fun run in a wheelchair for Cancer Research and the society.”
Alan King, ACTS director, said: “She was always there doing whatever we needed.
“She’d sell programmes, and she’d be sitting on the front row with her coloured hair and was always very supportive of the children.
“She also ran the tea hut at Bridgwater Town football ground and they got awards there thanks to Jan.”
Margaret Robinson, director and producer at the pantomime society, said: “We’ll all miss her. She was a great supporter of amateur theatre in the town.”
Rita Jones, president of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee, said: “She has collected at carnival for many years, and raised a fantastic amount for charity and has supported every show.
“Her letters of support in the Mercury will be missed by everyone.
“Sadly, another of our Bridgwater characters has passed away. As they say, gone but not forgotten – rest in peace Jan.”
Laura Nicholson, chairman of British Flag Carnival Club, said: “She came to our dress rehearsal for the carnival concerts.
“I remember her catering things for the carnival and her lovely sandwiches. She always had a smile on her face.”
Finally, the Mercury would like to say how touched we have been over the years by the many letters Jan wrote for our Postbag.
Jan’s funeral service will be held on Friday, May 23, at 11.30am at St Mary’s Church, Bridgwater.
Guests are asked to wear bright colours at the service, at Jan’s request.
Donations to St Margaret’s Hospice can be made via H Biffen and Sons funeral directors.