My mother, Janet Jones, who has died aged 86, was a teacher whose passions were early-years education and equality of the sexes. She worked tirelessly in both fields for her entire adult life.
She was born and grew up in Connah’s Quay in north Wales, the second daughter of Leslie and Adgie Coppack (an older sister died in childhood), and elder sister to Ian. Her father was headmaster of a local school.
She attended Hawarden grammar school and then the Froebel Institute for teacher education, which eventually became Roehampton University. Leaving the Froebel, she taught in Highgate, north London, and at a boarding school in north Wales.
In 1954 she married Thomas Jones. Devoted to teaching, she went back to work at Granville Street school in Runcorn, Cheshire, in the early 1960s. It was not long before she had her own unit for children with special needs at Grange junior school in the town. In 1971 she became head of Astmoor infants’ school.
Janet was a magistrate for many years, president of the Runcorn branch of the National Association of Head Teachers in 1975 and president of her local Liberal party from 1973 to 1978. She remained a headteacher until MS forced her to take early retirement in 1981.
Ill-health did not slow her down. She had become involved with BAECE, the British Association for Early Childhood Education, and for three years from 1986 she was national chairman. She gave evidence to parliamentary select committees on four occasions and became a prominent member of Soroptimist International, which seeks to educate and empower women and girls around the world.
In 1987 Janet was elected co-chairman of the Women’s National Commission, a government advisory body. Just before that she travelled to China to discuss women’s issues, and later made another visit as BAECE chairman to discuss early-years education.
Although nominally retired, Janet worked harder in this period of her life than in any other, travelling to London two or three times a week. She visited Brussels several times, helping to set up the European Women’s Lobby, an umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the EU, and in 1988 became patron of the Prix Femmes d’Europe. She was a member of the management committee of Halton Women’s Aid, Halton being the local government district that includes Runcorn, and helped to run the local women’s refuge. She became a councillor in 1990, a role she undertook with great energy for many years.
In 1994, the United Nations’ International Year of the Family, Janet attended the concluding conference in Montreal as one of three UK delegates. In 1995 she was appointed OBE.
Thomas died in 2011. She is survived by myself and her sons, Christopher and David, and by 13 grandchildren.