Hullbridge Village History
Janet Stracey was a very special person, her memory will live on in each and every one of us. Janet was a member of our club when it was known as "The Young Mothers Club" held at the old doctors surgery. As the club passed through time and some of the mums became not so young, with Janet's help our name and venue was changed to incorporate all Ladies to the Riverside Ladies Club.
She organised Riverside Ladies with such skill and energy that we hardly noticed what she was doing. She would turn her hand to anything-organising speakers, greeting newcomers, always first to offer a lift to anyone who needed one, making tea and of course keeping us all on track. Hers was the one voice able to silence a hall full of chattering ladies. When Janet called for quiet, no-one could fail to be impressed. She had a strong sense of humour and enjoyed life to the full.
Janet was such a caring person working tirelessly to make the Riverside Ladies Club the happy and vibrant place it is today. Janet felt so strongly about women having a life of their own outside of home.
Janet enjoyed many interests including reading, poetry, therefore the following poem we feel Janet would have approved of:-
Janet was passionate about everything she believed in and was not afraid to speak her mind, she enjoyed a glass of red wine when we all went out on one of our outings, or a flask of tea when she was on one of her campaign trips, either would put a smile on her face. Janet will be so missed by each and everyone of us.
I was privileged to know and work alongside Janet on the Hullbridge Parish Council of which she was a longstanding member.
Janet was an outstanding friend and first class citizen. Hullbridge has lost a true champion who gave a great deal with no thought of praise less still reward. She never took anything or any help she received from others for granted.
Janet was known to many for her work as a Parish Councilor, Teacher, School Governor, The Riverside Ladies Club and her popular articles in Ripples, the last of which can be seen below. In recent times she gave the Hullbridge Centre of Windermere Avenue tremendous help and support.
In addition to all this she still found time to give help and support to anyone around her that needed it, be it a lift to a hospital appointment, accompanying someone to a Social or Civic event or simply being there for a cup of tea and a chat.
I hope that while those of us whose lives she touched remember her in our hearts we will also take note of the fine example of loving friendship, neighbourliness and community spirit she set us all.
I first met Janet back in 2008 when I saw in Ripples an advert written by her stating that the Hullbridge Centre was looking for people to play darts. I had many second thoughts about going to the "Old Peoples" Centre" because of the picture I had envisaged of what it was like. However I did enter and was taken aback by the welcome I received from Janet and Brenda Hutchinson as I walked through the doors. From that moment on my impression of the Hullbridge Centre radically changed. Especially as she did not believe I was over 50 !
Over the following weeks I got to talk to Janet many times and although initially I was taken back by how fixed she was in her views on certain matters:- Politics, Men, Hullbridge, Religion etc., over time I began to admire her for sticking to them especially her love for the Labour Party, Hullbridge and especially her personal project the "Hullbridge Centre". The later was extremely infectious and she got me wanting to help her in any way I could. It was an ambition of hers to change the image of the Centre from being an "Old Peoples Centre" to a thriving meeting place for retired villagers over 50. By the time she sadly left us in my and many others opinions she had achieved that.
Janet was an excellent people manager who had the knack of getting things done by others and if not, by doing so herself. I believe the key to her success was she was able to get people to believe the Centre could and should change. It is possible to see the amount of success she achieved by reading the annual reports of the Centre on the Centre's websiite http://www.hullbridgevillage.co.uk/HCindex.html. Fortunately before she passed away villagers who knew her were, as in the poem above, able to let her know how much they appreciated everything she had done for them. At the presentation over 100 people packed the hall as well as presenting Janet with the bouquet she was also presented with 2 cases of various New World Red Wines and other personal presents. This was the second presentation to Janet, the first was made a couple of weeks earlier by the Parish Council, who presented her with a cut glass decanter and wine glasses with a engraved decanter label saying THANK YOU ! Very appropriate !
I like to think that Janet and I, although having conflicting views, did get on well and I personally hope I changed her view on men and there were times when I was totally gob smacked when she told me quietly I was right !
During some of our chats there were times when I was horrified to hear what Janet had done. There were times when, because of her Parish Council position, (she was Chairman for a number of years), she had gone to the Rec and other places around the village where disturbances had been reported to her and tackled on her own the culprits. Much to her credit not once did she come in with a black eye, but a number of times she was fuming. I could not say whether the culprits had black eyes but one thing I'm sure of and that is their ears would be red from her telling off!
Whilst making this website I have seen, heard and encountered many people, and there are a handful who through their consistent actions have made Hullbridge a wonderful place to live. I consider Janet one of them. In her death she has left a big hole in our community, which will require a number of people to fill, I miss our talks and I can still remember the time she came back from a special surprise holiday her family had laid on for her in a thatched cottage. The smile on her face as she showed me the photo album she had been given was FANTASTIC ! full of pride, love of her family and gratitude to them all. By this time she knew she was not a well Lady! To many of us she is an inspiration on how not to let a major problem like a serious illness stop you from living and enjoying life and this was captured in a letter she wrote for "Ripples".
Janet, you have inspired me and many of the villagers and people that met you. I am unlikely to meet such a strong person again in my own life time and so I THANK YOU ! for showing me how to be humble, believe in myself and how to have a voice, if only I had met you earlier.