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Tributes to 'Faversham matriarch' Jacqueline Hitchcock following her death aged 93

Few people can claim to have lived their lives as fully as Jacqueline Hitchcock.

The great-grandmother - who worked as a journalist, model and teacher, rubbed shoulders with the glitterati and raised four girls, all the while being a key pillar of her community - has died at the age of 93.

Jacqueline Hitchcock. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline Hitchcock. Picture: Simone Owen

Her extraordinary life saw her encounter celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Petula Clark and Spike Milligan.

But despite having seen the world and met many of its brightest talents, she is largely remembered for her steadfast devotion to her family and friends, and to the community of Faversham.

Her daughters remember her as adventurous, creative and hugely sociable; describing her as "a force of nature - kind, selfless and always willing to help others".

Jacqueline was born and went to school in London, before getting her first job as a journalist at Wembley News at the age of 16.

She later worked for the Weekly Sporting Review, for which she covered the London Olympics in 1948.

As a young woman, Jacqueline worked as a journalist and a model. Picture: Simone Owen
As a young woman, Jacqueline worked as a journalist and a model. Picture: Simone Owen

At 19, she moved to her mother's homeland of France, where she studied at the Sorbonne.

Her daughter, Francesca Mayes said: "She told us many wild stories of Paris.

"While she was there she did a bit of modelling, film dubbing, translation, and she also worked as an international journalist, sending stories back."

Jacqueline met many famous faces, befriending actress and singer Diana Dors, and dining with the likes of Petula Clark and Noel Coward.

She accumulated countless tales of her celebrity encounters, such as the time she happened upon Bing Crosby while he was being scolded by the gendarmes for sitting on a patch of grass that was supposedly out-of-bounds.

Jacqueline befriended many famous figures of the time. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline befriended many famous figures of the time. Picture: Simone Owen

"She could just reel off all the famous people that she knew," said Francesca.

In the Spring of 1951, Jacqueline visited Spain.

"A countess friend of hers had run away with this fellow, and her friend's father came to get my mother so they could go down to find his daughter," said Francesca.

It was at the American Club in Madrid that Jacqueline met Vincent Hitchcock - famed as the first British bullfighter.

The couple married in London in 1952, before moving to Faversham in 1958, where they raised their four girls, Vanessa, Francesca, Teresa and Antonia.

"It was because of my father's fame that everybody knew of them, coming here," recalled Francesca.

Jacqueline with her family. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline with her family. Picture: Simone Owen

But Jacqueline soon established herself as a key figure in the community.

In 1962, she helped found the Faversham Society, and was later chair of the organisation for 11 years.

"She also used to organise the open gardens," said Francesca. "She was part of the Hop Festival committee, and many years ago she started the Union of Catholic Mothers in Faversham."

Jacqueline was also still working as a model when she and Vincent separated in 1962.

"She was just amazing," recalls Francesca. "She was loving; quite strict with us, but she opened our eyes to everything in life. She used to take us to operas, plays, theatres.

"When we were little she didn't have much money, so we'd go up on the train to London and walk around everywhere, and she'd say to us 'look at the place as a tourist - always look up. Don't look at it with your eyes on the ground'."

Jacqueline is remembered by many as an 'amazing' teacher. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline is remembered by many as an 'amazing' teacher. Picture: Simone Owen

Her daughter Teresa added: "She taught people to see the world, not just look at it."

Jacqueline later went to night school to gain herO-Levels so she could become a pottery teacher.

With her artistic eye, she taught at Ethelbert Road Boys School in the early 70s, and later at the Abbey School.

"She was always entertaining at home, always having parties," recalled Francesca.

"She just loved socialising. She loved helping people and always being there for people, supporting them in every way she could.

"And that's what she's done for us girls. She's always supported us."

Jacqueline was mother to four daughters. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline was mother to four daughters. Picture: Simone Owen

Jacqueline sadly died on Valentine's Day at Davington Farmhouse in Faversham; her home of 63 years.

She died in her sleep upon what would have been her mother's birthday, surrounded by her family; her cause of death listed as frailty.

Jacqueline leaves behind three daughters, Teresa Owen, Francesca Mayes, and Antonia Michaelides, along with eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Her eldest daughter Vanessa Mayes tragically died just nine weeks before her, after suffering complications due to Covid.

News of Jacqueline's death has been met with an outpouring of sadness from across the Faversham community, many of whom remember her as an "amazing" art teacher.

Jacqueline Hitchcock, surrounded by her family. Picture: Simone Owen
Jacqueline Hitchcock, surrounded by her family. Picture: Simone Owen

"She taught me to see the world so differently," said one former pupil. "I will miss her very much. She left a rainbow-coloured whirlwind wherever she went."

Long-time friend Carmel Park describes Jacqueline as a "great Faversham matriarch".

"She really was one of Faversham's main players," she said. "She knew everybody. She was just a fantastic character. And I'll miss her terribly, I really will."

In her later years, Jacqueline's eyesight was affected by macular degeneration.

A fundraising page in aid of The Macular Society has been set up for anyone wishing to make a donation in her memory.

To donate, visit the Gofundme page.

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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