Forty years ago, Karen Jones was out and about on Blackpool seafront when she caught the eye of the photographer taking pictures destined for the following year’s holiday brochure.
With her sunglasses on her head, teenager Karen obliged with her smile - and made history by becoming the “winsome face” of the 1974 guide, ousting the Tower from the cover for the first time in a decade.
Her achievement was just one of the topics of discussion by friends and family at Monday’s funeral of Karen, who died earlier this month, at 58, after five years of fighting the incurable condition frontotemporal dementia.
Sister Wendy Biviano, of Bromley Road, St Annes, says: “Apparently, it was never intended that Karen should appear in the guide at all. She was a friend of one of the models used for the guide pictures and she went along when the pictures were being taken - just for the fun of it.”
A 1973 Gazette article confirms the lucky decision of former Montgomery School pupil Karen, then 18, of Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, to tag along.
Blackpool’s publicity chief Bob Battersby told a reporter that the Tower was pushed onto an inside page because of Karen’s expression.
He said: “It was felt it was time for a change and with the pretty face of Miss Jones we seem to have hit on a winner.”
When it was decided to take a few extra pictures during the shoot, Karen was invited to pose and the result struck the photographer and Mr Battersby so much that the picture got pride of place.”
Wendy says: “Over the years Karen’s vibrant smile appeared in The Gazette on several occasions. She and her son, Daniel, were named and featured in The Gazette as Studio D’s Silver Jubilee Mother and Baby competition winners in 1977 and the following year Karen was one of Allan Brown’s new football team – The Glamour Squad who, in full soccer strip, helped promote Blackpool Football Club’s instant lottery.”
Karen was born in Blackpool and trained and worked as a midwife at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Wendy says: “The hospital gave her the chance to become a midwife, which she loved doing. She joined the Royal Naval Reserves as a senior nursing officer and she was awarded the Reserve Decoration.”
Karen moved to Staffordshire when she married her husband of 25 years, Mike Maryon.
She got involved in politics after leading a campaign to stop ‘blasting’ techniques at a local quarry, and was elected as a Conservative councillor for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in 1999, serving as its chairman in 2007, shortly before the onset of her illness.
Wendy says: “Karen loved Blackpool and regularly came home to the Fylde coast. She was just an amazing person, who loved being a Blackpool girl.
“In fact she personified Blackpool. She got to know everybody and loved being part of the Blackpool scene.”