Tribute to 'inspirational' Hemel Hempstead woman who managed sheltered housing for the elderly

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Jean Roberts will be 'greatly missed'

Tribute has been paid to an 'inspirational' woman who served the Hemel Hempstead community for many years.

Jean Roberts sadly passed away on Tuesday, October 5, at Watford General Hospital, aged 91.

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Jean became a warden of sheltered-housing for the elderly, managing Evelyn Sharp House, the largest complex of its kind in Dacorum, for 17 years.

Jean RobertsJean Roberts
Jean Roberts

Dame Evelyn Sharp, who had played a leading Government role in initiating new types of housing for older people, came to Hemel Hempstead in June 1974 to open the scheme bearing her name.

Her husband Len Roberts said: "Jean was a caring, selfless and compassionate person, who created a community in which residents could enjoy many and varied social activities, including entertainments provided weekly by visiting individuals and groups, and even an old-time dance night for which some bought ballroom dresses!

"Special events were celebrated, including the Queen’s Jubilee. Much sought after, and highly-regarded, it gained an outstanding reputation."

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"A lot of her original tenants have themselves passed away but she was always meeting up in town with their children and a lot of people will have known her and were very fond of her, they would always take the time to speak to her.

The picture is from The Gazette's coverage of whenDame Evelyn Sharp performed the opening ofEvelyn Sharp houseThe picture is from The Gazette's coverage of whenDame Evelyn Sharp performed the opening ofEvelyn Sharp house
The picture is from The Gazette's coverage of whenDame Evelyn Sharp performed the opening ofEvelyn Sharp house

"There will be a lot of fond memories of her, she was kind and caring and will be missed by many people.

"She built a real community right from the start at Evelyn Sharp House, she made it a very happy place.

"At the time, as wardens we lived on the premises, there was a separate bit called the Warden's House. All our sons actually got married when they were living at the warden's house."

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Jean, a lifelong member of The Salvation Army, settled in Hemel Hempstead from Leeds with her husband, local artist Len, and their four sons.

The couple were full-time Salvation Army officers for 20 years and were in charge of centres in various parts of the country.

Jean had a lovely voice and sang in the local songsters for many years, when they made a great contribution to the army’s annual Mayor’s Charity Carol Concert in the Pavilion.

Majors David and Sarah Murray, on behalf of The Salvation Army, said: "Mrs Jean Roberts was an inspirational Christian lady who transparently lived out her faith in God, in selfless service for others, particularly through the ministry of The Salvation Army.

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"It was our privilege to have known her, and she will be greatly missed."

Her public funeral service is to be held at The Salvation Army, Waterhouse Street, at 1pm on Friday, October 29.

It is to be conducted by Commissioner Anthony Cotterill, leader throughout the UK and Ireland, who with his wife Gill were for seven years in charge at Hemel Hempstead, during which time they gave a significant lead to provision for homeless people.