Friday, 17 February 2012

Jean Pateman MBE † RIP

Jean Pateman MBE has died of kidney failure at Whittington Hospital, Archway, London, following a fall at her home in View Road. She was ninety.

Whittington Hospital holds particularly sad and poignant memories for me because it is where my mother died and where I last spoke to her when she was alive.

Since Jean Pateman's death last Saturday, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the former chairwoman of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a role she retired from in 2009.

We knew each other and continued to stay in touch by correspondence until quite recently. Following my relocation to a more tranquil setting, it was always such a delight to receive from her FoHC literature and news from a place with which I was once so intimately acquainted. She also knew and greatly liked my London Secretary, Diana Brewester, who sadly passed away earlier this century.

Jean Pateman was born on 14 July 1921 at Bromborough, Cheshire. Her father was a solicitor and she studied at Queen’s School in Chester, before moving in her late teens to a convent school in Belgium. She met her husband, John Pateman, a housemaster at a school in Edinburgh, in 1946. After marrying, the pair moved in 1947 to South Africa, where her husband became a headmaster. The couple returned to England in 1953 and settled in Hampstead. Five years later, they crossed the Heath and moved into View Road, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.
It was after settling in Highgate that Mrs Pateman became interested in the cause for which she became best known. Highgate Cemetery’s gates were locked in 1975 after the owners, the London Cemetery Company, ran out of funds.

Mrs Pateman, as a founding member of the Highgate Society, reacted with horror at the issues of vandalism and dereliction that had plagued the cemetery. She set up the Friends of Highgate Cemetery (FoHC) and organised teams of volunteers to manage the site and offer guided tours. She stood down as chairman of the Trust two years ago, but continued to play an active role as a trustee right up until her death last weekend.

The passing of Jean Pateman MBE is the end of an era.

1 comment:

  1. I regret not having been in contact with her for ages. She's such a warm person. I will surely miss her smile......... ilove you Ms.Jean