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Remembering Jane O’Leary

Monday, 04 March 2013 10:52

Jane O'Leary with the grand-daughter Jane O'Leary with the grand-daughter

Jane was president of CPRE Henley and Mapledurham district and a member of CPRE for more than 40 years.

Jane O’Leary (1927 – 2012) grew up in London and at The Hyde in Hambleden, near Henley-on-Thames. She began work after the war restoring stained glass damaged during the conflict. This work made her a determined to look after and preserve rural England and its architectural heritage. She was fierce in protecting pastures, hedgerows, woodlands and vernacular architecture.

Jane joined CPRE in her forties and by the early 1970s was very active on the district committee, holding the post of president of Henley and Mapledurham district at the time of her death. She fought constantly to protect the countryside of the Hambleden Valley and was still fighting during her final year to prevent the development of an unsuitably large-scale equestrian centre at Skirmett. At committee meetings her serious concern for her corner of the English countryside was clear and frequently brightened by her wicked sense of humour.

In recent years she implemented extensive work to improve the Hambleden Brook where it flowed through her land. She loved the stream and was very sad that it had mostly been dry in recent years. Just a week before she died she commented: “I don’t think it will flow again in my lifetime.” It flowed again about a week after her death.

In the 1960s on the hill above her house she planted a magnificent beech wood where she is now buried. We remember her with affection and gratitude for her ardent contribution to CPRE’s work.

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