My mother, Jennifer Jones, who has died aged 82, devoted her life to helping others in humble ways. Hers was a life of privilege – she was born into the famous Pilkington glassmaking family – but it was not without the severest of tests, with her mother and sister both dying young.
Daughter of Rosalind (nee Rowan) and Sir Harry (later Lord) Pilkington, she was born in St Helens, Merseyside, and educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ college. At Bristol University, her moral compass was set and she became a prominent member of the Student Christian Movement. On graduating with a first in history, philosophy and theology, she was given a job with the movement. At her graduation, her father remarked that he did not realise he had a genius for a daughter – to which her tutor replied, “You don’t. But you do have a daughter who works incredibly hard!”
On a work visit to Bolton Teacher Training College, she met Dennis Jones, a student there: they were engaged within a week and married in 1958, before moving to Leicestershire when Dennis took up a teaching post at the technical college in Hinckley.
Despite the workload of three children early in the marriage, Jennifer felt compelled to become a teacher. She trained at Leicester University and taught locally at Huncote junior school, moving to the junior school in Burbage, a suburb of Hinckley, in 1974. There she remained involved in various roles until a few weeks before she died.
But it was in her commitment to the community that Jennifer shone. As a member of her local church, she led weekly Bible study groups and undertook herculean amounts of bereavement visiting – at one time supporting more than 80 families. And for more than 25 years, she collected and delivered laundry for elderly people, volunteering for the WRVS.
Jennifer was a keen activist on environmental matters, going on marches in the UK and overseas. She was a parish councillor and campaigned for the Liberal Democrats for many years. She was a non-executive director of the George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton, where her children had been born.
Jennifer displayed the same commitment in her own pastimes, singing in the local choral union for more than 40 years. She was a dedicated cyclist and even in the last year of her life cycled more than 3,500 miles. Every year, she would pedal to visit more than 40 elderly people at Christmas time – giving each a homemade mince pie. But she was never happier than in the garden that she tended expertly.
Dennis died in 1996. Jennifer is survived by her children, Andrew, Penny and me, six grandchildren and her brother, John.