'˜Great champion' of Lancing touched many peoples' lives

A passionately political great-grandmother, who spent her life helping others, will be missed by many.

Thursday, 18th May 2017, 11:10 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:40 pm
Wendy Gray was a much loved and well respected member of the community in Lancing

Wendy Gray died peacefully at home on Monday, May 1, aged 79, after battling cancer for three years.

Her daughter, Nicola Chapman, 53, said: “She touched so many people’s lives, it’s unbelievable.”

Jade Gray, Wendy’s daughter in law, described her as ‘an immensely strong lady, hugely generous and quite fiesty’.

Born into a politically active family in Purley in 1938, to a British mother and Swiss father, Wendy spent her formative years in Switzerland before returning to England aged 12 to attend Byculla boarding school in Hampshire.

She trained as a nurse at Sussex County Hospital and retained a ‘great love of nursing’ all her life.

In the 1960s, Wendy inherited from her mother a guest house on Lancing seafront, Mount Hermon, which she transformed into a refuge for female victims of domestic violence – a ‘groundbreaking’ move at a time when this issue was only just coming to the fore.

Jade said: “She offered them love, support and counsel in a safe environment with their children.

“Many of them will remember her support in helping them create a new positive life with homes and employment.”

She ‘never missed a day’ at Mount Hermon, including when it later became a care home and then a dementia care home.

Described by parliamentary candidate Tim Loughton as ‘a great stalwart of the local Conservative Party’, Jade recalls that when Wendy met her political role model Margaret Thatcher at Arundel Castle, she burst into tears with emotion.

Wendy was a member of Adur District Council and became the chairman of Lancing Parish Council, a role she took ‘great pride’ in.

Mr Loughton said: “Lancing has lost a great champion.”

She brought many other local people into politics, he added, as well as initiating community activities and events on Lancing Beach Green, including planting the Lancing rowing boat and refurbishing the bandstand.

Ann Bridges, the current chair of Adur District Council, said Wendy was influential in her joining the Conservatives.

Wendy had two children – Mark Gray, 52, and Nicola Chapman – with her husband Robert Gray.

She also leaves three grandchildren and a great-grandchild, aged five.

“It is impossible to count the number of people that Wendy has helped in her life,” Jade said.

“She will be missed by so many.”

Her funeral, at which she had requested that everybody wears blue, will be held at Worthing Crematorium on Monday, May 22, at 1.40pm

There will also be a stop off outside of Mount Hermon at 1.10pm, where people are invited to gather and pay their respects.

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