Jean Jefcoate Death – Obituary – It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of long-term supporter Jean Jefcoate. Jean is the wife of our Patron Roger Jefcoate and together they have dedicated their time to the cause, raising and generously donating significant funds to support the vital work of WheelPower over 60 years of association.
Jean and Roger pictured meeting Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as four new members were inducted into the Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame (October 2014)
Jean was born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire and was from a musical family. This led her to a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London and her talent continued to develop as a soprano in oratorios. She won many awards, broadcast for the BBC, and was a soloist at the Cheltenham Festival, amongst many memorable moments during her singing career. She met Roger whilst performing at a charity concert in 1962 and a year later they married, beginning an amazing and lifelong partnership, changing the untold number of lives through their charitable work.
Throughout their married life Jean helped Roger in pioneering technology at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital with Sir Ludwig Guttmann, founder of the Paralympics. Together they developed home remote control systems for severely disabled people for the NHS and much else besides. Jean and Roger subsequently launched a number of equipment funding charities and most notably the Disability Aid Fund in 1983 (now known as the Roger and Jean Jefcoate Trust) of which Jean was secretary. Over these years they funded millions of pounds worth of special equipment for disabled individuals, and continue to support small frontline healthcare charities nationwide.
That link with Stoke Mandeville continued through WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, which was also founded by Sir Ludwig Guttmann. They support disabled people nationwide to engage in physical activity and sporting opportunities to help them to live healthier and happier lives. The charity continues to work alongside the National Spinal Injuries Centre and at other spinal units across the UK through the physical activity advisor program. Dedicated advisors support newly paralyzed people trying various sports, and engage in activities to increase their long-term physical and mental health. The annual Inter Spinal Unit Games was one of Jean and Rogers’s favorite events to attend and an opportunity to see the life-changing work firsthand.
Jean Jefcoate Death – Obituary, Jean Jefcoate Has Passed Away
WheelPower Chief Executive Martin McElhatton OBE said “Jean was a much-loved member of the wider WheelPower ‘family’. We are incredibly grateful to the Roger and Jean Jefcoate Trust for their support over many years, and Jean was a big advocate for our most recent award from the Trust. She will be greatly missed by all of us here at Stoke Mandeville, and I am sure the many other charities who have benefited so much from her kind-heartedness will all feel the same”.
As well as supporting WheelPower and the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) Jean and Roger have helped many other Buckinghamshire-based charities through the work of their trust. Jean was passionate about the environment and they were proud patrons of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. A self-described ‘tree hugger’ Jean and Roger have become well known for their love of trees and especially that of the endangered black poplar. In 2012 Jean and Roger grew one hundred black poplars for the Greater London Lieutenancy to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Jean passed away on the 6th of November following a long-term illness and she is survived by her husband Roger, who is a dedicated Patron of WheelPower.
Our thoughts and condolences go to Roger, the family, and all of their friends at this sad time.