Tributes to the life of sociable and friendly Avon lady from Horsham

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Jean Williams of Granary Way, Horsham sadly passed away unexpectedly on Sunday 1st March 2015. Her passing prompted the family to ponder how everyday people can touch so many lives and how every interaction is priceless.

Jean (nee Mayhew) was born in Croydon in 1931 but was evacuated to Horsham at the age of 10 in 1941. After the war her father, Bob, finished his warden duties in London and brought his wife Dolly to Horsham to settle with the family in Granary Way.

Jean attended Horsham High School for Girls and subsequently during her lifetime in the town she held many jobs including waitressing and office work at Ciba/Novartis, delivering the Evening Argus to outlying villages, bar work at The Star and St Leonard’s Arms, working at the station cafe early mornings, running numerous home catalogues and being an “Avon lady”, a venture which she thoroughly enjoyed and which kept her busy delivering orders up until the day before she died.

Jean met Len Williams, an engineer from Billingshurst whose early years had been spent in the Billingshurst workhouse. Whilst they were courting Len would cycle into Horsham from Billingshurst each weekend to take Jean to the Drill Hall dance and many friends have fondly recalled how they loved to watch them jive. They married and over the course of the next 15 years welcomed 4 daughters and a son. Before he passed away in 2007 Len had become known locally as “The Lawnmower Man” on account of the hundreds of mowers and strimmers he’d accumulated whilst offering a repair service to local gardening enthusiasts.

With her many circles and generations of friends Jean could be considered to have begun a kind of social networking that long predates Facebook and, through Avon and shopping catalogues, she provided the home shopping experience long before Amazon! That said Jean was active on modern platforms as well, having joined Facebook in its early years. Friends have been expressing their condolences on the social networking site, paying tribute to her kind and friendly nature with comments including “she was full of warmth, too special to go so soon”, “a very lovely lady, always a smile for me”, “It is hard to believe as she was so full of life” and “she was always cheerful, we shall miss her”.

Jean was devoted to her family and many friends. Her days revolved around helping others. Although 83 years old she was still very active - out and about most days walking or driving, to deliver Avon, meet friends, go on excursions, visit family, run errands. She simply never stopped.

Jean’s family and friends have been completely devastated by her sudden loss. Tragically they are not alone in losing a loved one to thrombosis. Venous thromboembolism - or VTE - is often a silent medical condition with no obvious signs or symptoms. It doesn’t discriminate and can affect people of any age or sex. Thrombosis is a leading cause of death in the UK, yet in many cases it can be prevented. The charity Lifeblood is committed to the prevention of VTE and, where already present, its early diagnosis and effective treatment. Jean’s family have set up a memorial page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/BigMother to raise funds for the charity.

This appreciation of Jean’s life contributed by her son Alex Williams.