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Creative, sporty - so much more than a councillor - tributes paid to Dartford's Nancy Wightman

In her heyday, the tennis-mad motorcyclist and keen costume creator would hurtle over sports day finishing lines miles ahead of the other mothers.

Nancy Wightman was so much more than a Dartford councillor.

The mother of three, who has died aged 79, lived all her life in the borough and played a huge part in shaping its sporting legacy.

Cllr Nancy Wightman
Cllr Nancy Wightman

Her funeral takes place today at St Mary's church, Stone at 11.30am.

She went to a convent school in Gravesend and took part in county hockey trials before going on to be Dartford’s women’s singles champion in tennis.

It was on the court she met her future husband, Jack, who was the men’s singles champion.

The pair married in 1958 and had three children, Angela, Geoff and Derek, and five grandchildren.

Geoff, 53, said: “From the moment my parents played doubles together they were a partnership in everything.

“When we were young they would get really involved with the fancy dress competition at Stone fete and we always won prizes.

"Mum was the creative one, coming up with the ideas, and dad would be up all night making a zebra out of cardboard boxes.

“She was a very lively character and used to ride a big motorbike in the 1950s which was quite unusual for a woman then.

“Mum had a sharp sense of humour too and she always won the parent races at school sports days.

“It got to the point the school had to make it harder with extra challenges, but she still won by a mile and hurdled over the finishing line tape.”

Nancy Wightman with her eldest son Geoffrey and his three children, Jake, Sam and Martha
Nancy Wightman with her eldest son Geoffrey and his three children, Jake, Sam and Martha

Mrs Wightman spent her life volunteering and helping with community projects.

As a boy, Geoff’s Cub group was at risk of shutting down so she, with lifelong friend Doreen Sawyer, volunteered as leaders and stayed there for 10 years.

Heavily involved with the church, she was also chairman of Dartford Sports Council for a time and helped to set up the bowls centre in Stone Lodge and Dartford’s judo club.

She was president of the Dartford Harriers during the 1980s and helped to get a new running track installed.

She was also involved with Dartford Football Club at the time when they left their old ground and needed to find somewhere new – which was Princes Park.

As a young woman her dream was to be a PE teacher, but she was turned down because it was believed arthritis would leave her wheelchair-bound by 30.

Geoff said: “I don’t know how they tested for these things years ago, but she never suffered with arthritis.

"As it turned out she couldn’t have been more involved with community and sporting projects. If you look around the borough you can see so many things she has been involved with and the facilities she helped to put in place.”

Mr Wightman died shortly after the couple’s 40th wedding anniversary but his wife continued with all her community work.

A Conservative councillor for Brent ward, she was also a governor at the Brent school in Stone for a time.

For 20 years she was a part of Stone Parish Council and a magistrate and chairman of the bench at Dartford Magistrates’ Court, only giving up when she reached 70.

Mrs Wightman, of Watling Street, Dartford, was still active in her work as a councillor up until a few weeks before her death on August 1.

Despite how busy she was, Geoff said family always came first and “everything was dropped to support us and the grandchildren”.

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